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Corporal Punishment, Manual Restraint, Prone Restraint, and Physical Confinement and Detention

The use of corporal punishment, mechanical restraint, and/or prone restraint is prohibited in all schools. Corporal punishment is defined as the intentional physical punishment of a student. It includes the use of unreasonable or unnecessary physical force or physical contact made with the intent to harm or cause pain. 

No employee is prohibited from any of the following which are not considered corporal punishment:

Using reasonable and necessary force, not designed or intended to cause pain, in order to accomplish any of the following:

  • To quell a disturbance or prevent an act that threatens physical harm to any person. 
  • To obtain possession of a weapon or other dangerous object(s) within a student’s control.
  • For the purposes of self-defense or defense of others as provided for in Iowa Code section 704.3. 
  • For the protection of property as provided for in Iowa Code section 704.4 or 704.5.
  • To remove a disruptive student from class or any area of District premises or from District-sponsored activities off District premises.
  • To protect a student from the self-infliction of harm.
  • To protect the safety of others.
  • Using incidental, minor, or reasonable physical contact to maintain order and control.
  • Mechanical restraint means the use of a device as a means of restricting a student’s freedom of movement.  

Mechanical restraint does not mean a device used by a trained individual for specific approved therapeutic or safety purposes for which the device was designed and, if applicable, prescribed, including restraints for medical immobilization, adaptive devices or mechanical supports used to allow greater freedom of mobility than would be possible without use of such devices or mechanical supports; and vehicle safety restraints when used as intended during the transport of a student in a moving vehicle.

Prone restraint means any restraint in which the student is held face down on the floor.

Reasonable force should be commensurate with the circumstances of the situation. 

The following factors should be considered in using reasonable physical force for the reasons stated in this policy:

  • The size and physical, mental, and psychological condition of the student;
  • The nature of the student’s behavior or misconduct provoking the use of physical force;
  • The instrumentality used in applying the physical force;
  • The extent and nature of resulting injury to the student, if any, including mental and psychological injury;
  • The motivation of the school employee using physical force.

In cases of physical force the student’s parents/guardians will be informed.

On occasion, trained district employees and others may have to use behavior management interventions, physical restraint and/or seclusion of students to promote the dignity, care, safety, welfare and security of each child and the school community. With this in mind, the district will prioritize the use of the least restrictive behavioral interventions appropriate for the situation.

Physical restraint means a personal restriction that immobilizes or reduces the ability of a student to move the student’s arms, legs, body, or head freely. Physical restraint does not mean a technique used by trained school personnel, or used by a student, for the specific and approved therapeutic or safety purposes for which the technique was designed and, if applicable, prescribed. Physical restraint does not include instructional strategies, such as physically guiding a student during an educational task, hand-shaking, hugging, or other non-disciplinary physical contact.

Seclusion means the involuntary confinement of a child in a seclusion room or area from which the child is prevented or prohibited from leaving; however, preventing a child from leaving a classroom or school building is not considered seclusion. Seclusion does not include instances when a school employee is present within the room and providing services to the child, such as crisis intervention or instruction.

Physical restraint or seclusion is reasonable or necessary only:

  1. To prevent or terminate an imminent threat of bodily injury to the student or others; or
  2. To prevent serious damage to property of significant monetary value or significant non monetary value or importance; or
  3. When the student’s actions seriously disrupt the learning environment or when physical restraint or seclusion is necessary to ensure the safety of the student or others
  4. When less restrictive alternatives to seclusion or physical restraint would not be effective, would not be feasible under the circumstances, or have failed in preventing or terminating the imminent threat or behavior; and
  5. When the physical restraint or seclusion complies with all applicable laws.

Prior to using physical restraint or seclusion, employees must receive training in accordance with the law. Any individual not employed by the district but whose duties could require the individual to use or be present during the use of physical restraint or seclusion on a student will be invited to access the same training content as that offered to employees on this topic.

When required by law, the superintendent/designee will ensure a post-occurrence debriefing meeting is held, maintain documentation and fulfill all reporting requirements for each occurrence of physical restraint or seclusion as required by law.

See Board Policy 503.05, 503.06, and the Iowa Department of Education’s website:, for more information. 

If you have any questions, please contact your child’s school.