Disability Rights California Releases Report on the Use of Restraint and Seclusion in California Schools

Press Release

Disability Rights California Releases Report on the Use of Restraint and Seclusion in California Schools

A young boy sitting alone in a room.

(Sacramento, CA) - In a report released today, “Restraint and Seclusion in California Schools: Findings and Recommendations from the 2021-22 School Year Data,” Disability Rights California (DRC) calls on California to enact greater protections for students against prone, or facedown, restraint and other dangerous techniques used in schools. 

In 2018, California passed AB 2657, a DRC-sponsored bill that created new protections for California students against dangerous forms of restraint and seclusion. AB 2657 also restored restraint and seclusion data collection and reporting requirements beginning with the 2019-2020 school year. 

AB 2657, however, contained omissions that have hindered its effectiveness in the five years since its enactment. In the report, DRC presents five main findings that are informed by its advocacy implementing AB 2657’s provisions and review of the 2021-22 data:

  1. California school districts continue to employ the highly dangerous practice of prone, or facedown, restraint, which has been banned in over thirty other states and rejected by the U.S. Department of Education.
  2. The “peace officer” restraint exception in AB 2657 has unduly weakened the bill’s protections and undermines oversight.
  3. Current restraint and seclusion data is unreliable because of widespread underreporting.
  4. California must address the shameful racial and disability disparities in its rates of restraint and seclusion.
  5. Unless it is closed, the existing NPS reporting loophole will prevent effective oversight by the California Department of Education.  

“It is time for California to revisit the important topic of restraint and seclusion in schools and adopt new reforms that build upon the promise of AB 2657,” said Robert Borrelle, Supervising Attorney in DRC’s Investigations Unit and a co-author of the report.  

In recognition of the dangers of prone restraint, Senator Dave Cortese (D-San Jose) has introduced Senate Bill 483, a bill that will prohibit the use of prone restraint by educational providers. If SB 483 becomes law, California would join the over thirty other states that ban the use of prone restraints in their schools. DRC supports the passage of Senate Bill 483 and urges the California Legislature to join the states that have enacted their own ban on prone restraint. 

Senator Cortese explains, “Prone restraint can cause serious injury and death to students. This outdated form of discipline has no place in the classroom or anywhere on a school campus. The research in this report also shows how physical restraints are disproportionately applied to students with disabilities and Black students, underscoring that the technique is not only barbaric, but it has racist roots. I hope this report will help further advance my SB 483, which will ban prone restraint across California. Educators should embrace positive behavioral interventions for students who might pose a risk to themselves or others, guaranteeing the safety of all students.”

The racial and disability disparities in the 2021-22 statewide data also show the need for greater scrutiny and review of data at the local level. DRC supports Assembly Bill 1466, a bill introduced by Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber (D-San Diego), that requires school districts to post their annual restraint and seclusion data on their websites. 

Assemblymember Dr. Weber: “Remarkable report out on restraint and seclusion in California schools from Disability Rights California. I am grateful for DRC’s support and spotlight on my Assembly Bill 1466, which will require school districts to post the annual restraint and seclusion data on their websites for greater accessibility and transparency. This report shows that California has much more work ahead to increase protections against dangerous restraints and techniques still permitted under law.”

Read the full report here.

Media Contacts:

Melody Pomraning
Communications Director
Disability Rights California


Disability Rights California (DRC) – Is the agency designated under federal law to protect and advocate for the rights of Californians with disabilities. The mission of DRC is to defend, advance, and strengthen the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities.