On Tuesdays we highlight The Toolbox—our firm’s full day training program regarding disciplinary options with students in your special education program. One topic we dwell on is the proper and improper use of physical restraint.
Our regulations empower trained individuals to use physical restraint in an “emergency.” This term is defined to include both “imminent, serious physical harm” and “imminent, serious property destruction.”
The lawyers in our firm recently discussed the meaning of “serious” as applied to property destruction and it turns out that one of us wrote an article about that very topic while in law school! How cool is that? Jennifer Carroll (Irving office) wrote the article for the Texas A&M University Journal of Property Law in 2016. Quoting from the article, Jennifer tells us that our regulations “do not provide a clear, applicable definition.” However, she goes on to say, when we look at the statutes, the regulations, the case law and good old Black’s Law Dictionary (a must buy for first year law students) “a definition of ‘imminent, serious property destruction can be inferred.”
To cut to the chase, Jennifer’s conclusion is that “serious” will generally mean property valued at $1500 or more. However, that should be treated as a general guideline, rather than a hard and fast cutoff. That dollar figure does not appear in the regulations. When TEA received comments to the proposed regs about the ambiguity of terms like “serious” it responded by saying that “the agency believes that these terms have commonly understood meanings and do not need to be further defined.” TEA comments also note that “reasonable and professional judgment” should come into play.
Thanks to Jennifer for input on today’s Dawg!
DAWG BONE: RESTRAINT: ONLY IN AN EMERGENCY.
Tomorrow: A story that starts out with a lot of pizazz fizzles out.