Several students physically restrained for 20+ minutes in local schools

I-Team

It’s a controversial form of intervention, that’s left students injured.. and parents, furious.
More than 2,300 students were physically restrained in public schools across the state last year.

The 22News I-Team  re-examined the issue two years after the state implemented new guidelines, meant to cut back on student restraints. We discovered it’s still happening, possibly putting children and teachers at risk.

According to documents obtained by the I-Team, 259 students were restrained more than 900 times at schools in western Massachusetts last year. 

The three schools with the highest number of restraints were the Peck School in Holyoke, the Old Mill Pond School in Palmer, and the Springfield Day School.

The I-Team reviewed records of restraints that lasted more than 20-minutes, or resulted in injury in those three districts last year. Palmer had none. The state still hasn’t completed our request for Holyoke. In Springfield, eight students were restrained for longer than 20-minutes.

Two separate restraint records show that a Springfield student got a bloody nose from a restraint. Two staff members also had lacerations on their arms after putting students in restraints.

Springfield Public Schools Spokeswoman Azell Cavaan told the I-Team restraints should only be used as a last resort.

“Every school has a crisis intervention team, and if there’s a situation where a student is becoming out of control, and physically presenting a threat, then it becomes appropriate to come in and hold that student or restrain that student.”

(If a student walks away with injuries after they were physically restrained, is this an indication that the teacher or administrator took things too far?) 
“That’s a question that’s talked about so often,” Cavaan said.

Russell Johnston is the Senior Associate Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. 

He told the I-Team that prior to last year, schools were only required to report restraints if a teacher were injured, or if the restraint lasted longer than 20-minutes. Now, every restraint must be reported.

(I’ve spoken to a lot of parents who have said, I don’t care what my kid did, I don’t want anyone putting their hands on them.)
“I think it’s important to hear that parent’s voice,” Johnston said.

Johnston said everyone shares the same goal; to one day make restraints a thing of the past.

22News obtained records of restraints Springfield schools: 

2017 School Year

  1. MALE STUDENT 11/15/2016 10:50:00 AM >20 Minutes
    • RESTRAINT LOG EXPLANATION: 1st restraint ended when [name redacted] got out of the 1-person stability hold- 4 minutes long and restraint ended after [name redacted] stopped trying to hit and kick staff and stopped trying to run into the cafeteria- 18 minutes long
    • HOLD REASON DETAIL: 1st restraint: 1-person stability hold: [name redacted] used this hold to ensure that he did not run back into the cafeteria
      1. 2nd restraint: 1-person stability hold:  [name redacted] used this hold to ensure that he could not continue punching the other student Chair stability hold with leg wrap:  [name redacted],  [name redacted],  [name redacted] and  [name redacted] used this restraint because  [name redacted]was trying to hit and kick the adults around him and still trying to run back into the cafeteria 2-person stability hold and escort: [name redacted] and  [name redacted] used this restraint to help the student to a safer location (out of the cafeteria hallway)
    • STUDENT ANTECEDENT DETAIL: A student in the cafeteria made a negative comment to [name redacted]; [name redacted] ran after the student to hit him, making contact.  [name redacted] was able to escort [name redacted] out of the cafeteria, but  [name redacted] was attempting to run back into the cafeteria to continue to fight with the student. Before the second restraint, [name redacted] had run away from adults and then ran into the cafeteria again to hit and hurt the other boy. Staff separated them and escorted him out of the cafeteria to the hallway.
    • ALT DEESCALATION DETAIL: [name redacted] escorted [name redacted] out of the cafeteria and was talking to him in a calm tone to try to calm him down. However, he was actively trying to run back into the cafeteria. Before the second restraint, [name redacted] tried verbally de-escalating in a calm voice and tried having him sit in another room to calm himself down. He sat there for a few moments, but then ran full speed back to the cafeteria.
    • JUSTIFICATION DETAIL: Student was attempting to charge past staff and students to return to the cafeteria to fight the other boy. Student was very escalated and would have injured the other child or someone else in the path to the other child. 
    • ACTION TAKEN DETAIL: 1 Day suspension
  2. MALE STUDENT 11/30/2016 12:42 PM >20 Minutes
    • RESTRAINT LOG EXPLANATION: The extended restraint was required so that [name redacted] was able to fully calm down and not continue behaviors of pushing staff and throwing items at other students.
    • STUDENT BEHAVIOR DETAIL: Restraint ended after [name redacted] stopped trying to hit and kick staff and stopped trying to run into the other classroom; he was able to talk to the adults and was visibly calmer, as measured by his affect, rate of breathing, and ability to speak to adults about other topics.
    • STUDENT ANTECEDENT DETAIL: At about 12pm, [name redacted] said that a student threw a pencil at him so he walked up to the student who was working and stood over him, posturing to fight him. The other boy did not engage at all.  [name redacted] got him to sit down into his seat. A few moments later, [name redacted] threw a pencil at the boy and hit him in the face.  [name redacted] went to [name redacted] and said that he needed to leave with her to go to the [redacted]’s Office. He left with him, saying loudly “he did it first, you better take him out, too.”  [name redacted] indicated that she would investigate that further once he went to the [redacted]’s Office.  [name redacted] was smiling as he left the room. Once they left the room, he sprinted away and she lost track of him.  Other adults tried to intervene with him while in the hallway to bring him to the [redacted]’s Office.  [name redacted] had returned to the classroom and he came to the door several times banging on it to open it so that he could go to the other boy. He left for a few moments. He came back to the room and another student opened the door while [name redacted] was not standing next to the door.  [name redacted] ran into the room and grabbed the other boy’s desk and flipped it over while he was sitting in it.  [name redacted] and [name redacted] escorted [name redacted] out of the room. At that time, the principal and the social worker took [name redacted] to calm down. After he was calm with the social worker and he said he was ready to go to the [redacted]’s Office, she walked him there. When they got to the [redacted]’s Office, [name redacted] ran away back up the stairs saying he was going to go to the boy. He ran into the adjoining classroom and tried to run through the inside door to the classroom where the other boy was.  [name redacted] was standing in the doorway and [name redacted] started to hit and push her out of the way. At that time, [name redacted] and [name redacted] evacuated the room and [name redacted] initiated a restraint so that [name redacted] would not hit/push [name redacted] nor enter the other room to go to the other boy.
    • ALT DEESCALATION DETAIL: After [name redacted] threw the pencil at the other boy, [name redacted] attempted to take him to the [redacted]’s Office to calm down, speaking in a calm tone to help him calm down. After he flipped the desk, he met with the social worker until he expressed that he was calm.  Restraint was used because he was hitting/pushing a staff member and would have hurt the student or other students in the path in the other classroom had he gone through the door.
    • JUSTIFICATION DETAIL: Student was hitting and pushing a staff member to be able to enter a room where a boy that he was angry with was sitting to be able to fight the boy.  Student was very escalated and would have injured the other child or another child or staff member in the path to the other child. 
    • ACTION TAKEN DETAIL: Suspension
  3. FEMALE STUDENT 12/13/2016 3:40 PM >20 Minutes
    • RESTRAINT LOG EXPLANATION: The student did not calm down
    • STUDENT ANTECEDENT DETAIL: Student left the classroom without permission. Went to the counselor’s office asking to call her mom- [redacted]. When she was told that she couldn’t she began running in the hallways and teacher stairwells.
    • JUSTIFICATION DETAIL: spitting, kicking, hitting, throwing objects, screaming and biting
  4. MALE STUDENT 12/15/2016 1:24 PM >20 Minutes
    • RESTRAINT LOG EXPLANATION: Due to the level of aggression, student was not calming down
    • STUDENT ANTECEDENT DETAIL: Substitute Teacher
    • JUSTIFICATION DETAIL: Physically aggressive with principal
  5. MALE STUDENT 2/27/2017 10:35 AM >20 Minutes
    • RESTRAINT LOG EXPLANATION: The student did not calm down
    • STUDENT ANTECEDENT DETAIL: Denied access
    • JUSTIFICATION DETAIL: Student was pushing staff, trying to punch principal
  6. MALE STUDENT 2/27/2017 10:16 AM >20 Minutes
    • RESTRAINT LOG EXPLANATION: The student did not calm down
    • STUDENT ANTECEDENT_DETAIL: Denied access
    • JUSTIFICATION DETAIL: Student was pushing staff, trying to punch principal
  7. MALE STUDENT 12/1/2016 9:45 AM >20 Minutes
    • RESTRAINT LOG EXPLANATION: Student was unable to calm and was held for 7 minutes in a standing hold.  He then became more aggressive kicking staff and attempting to bite.  Student was then in a floor supine hold for 31 minutes. Police arrived and supported hold.  Paramedics came and student was transported to the hospital.  Parent was notified and present at hospital.
    • STUDENT ANTECEDENT DETAIL: Student was aggressive and angry.  Academics appeared to be antecedent.
    • JUSTIFICATION DETAIL: Student biting and assaulting staff.
  8. FEMALE STUDENT 9/28/2016 2:23 PM >20 Minutes
    • RESTRAINT LOG EXPLANATION: No 1min, 1 min, 5 min
    • STUDENT ANTECEDENT DETAIL: Student was throwing foam floor tiles in air when he was asked to join the math lesson.  He indicated that he didn’t have to listen to staff.  [redacted]was called to respond to the situation.
    • JUSTIFICATION DETAIL: Pushing into staff, standing on hot water pipes, body partially out of window, pulling on shades, throwing objects

INJURY

  1. MALE STUDENT 2/1/2017 10:50 AM 1-5 Minutes
    1. INJURY DESCRIPTION: Student had bloody nose Staff had abrasions on arm.  Student seen by nurse.
    2. STUDENT ANTECEDENT DETAIL: Redirection.
    3. JUSTIFICATION DETAIL: Tried to assault staff.
  2. MALE STUDENT 5/31/2017 2:15 PM 1-5 Minutes
    1. INJURY DESCRIPTION: Interventionist [name redacted] had a laceration on his arm.
    2. STUDENT ANTECEDENT DETAIL: Redirection.
    3. JUSTIFICATION DETAIL: Physical aggression

Read the full records report >

22News obtained records of restraints Holyoke schools: 

  1. MALE STUDENT 10/12/2016 10:36 AM 20+ Minutes
    1. INJURY DESCRIPTION: No one injured
    2. HOLD USE: Seated 
    3. STUDENT BEHAVIOR DETAIL: Assaulting staff/self/peers
    4. JUSTIFICATION DETAIL: Assaulting staff
       

PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS THAT PHYSICALLY RESTRAINED STUDENTS:

AGAWAM:

Benjamin J Phelps
Students restrained – 8
Total # of restraints – 18

AMHERST:

Fort River Elementary
Students restrained – 10
Total # of restraints – 32

Wildwood Elementary
Students restrained – 6
Total # of restraints -10

CHICOPEE:

Belcher
Students restrained – 9
Total # of restraints – 37

HOLYOKE:

Peck School
Students restrained – 35
Total # of restraints – 180

Kelly School:
Students restrained – 6
Total # of restraints – 15

Lawrence School:
Students restrained – 12
Total # of restraints – 56

PALMER:

Old Mill Pond
Students restrained – 10
Total # of restraints – 112

PELHAM:

Pelham Elementary
Students restrained – 8
Total # of restraints – 10

SPRINGFIELD:

Springfield Public Day Elementary School
Students restrained – 32
Total # of restraints – 83

Brightwood
Students restrained – 12
Total # of restraints – 61

William N. DeBerry
Students restrained – 7
Total # of restraints – 10

John F Kennedy Middle
Students restrained – 11
Total # of restraints – 16

Springfield Public Day Middle School
Students restrained – 30
Total # of restraints – 70

Balliet Middle School
Students restrained – 21
Total # of restraints – 33

Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School of Excellence
Students restrained – 6
Total # of restraints – 8

WARE:

Stanley M Koziol Elementary School
Students restrained – 8
Total # of restraints – 47

Ware Junior/Senior High School
Students restrained – 6
Total # of restraints – 8

WESTFIELD:

Highland
Students restrained – 9
Total # of restraints – 46

GILL-MONTAGUE:

Students restrained – 7
Total # of restraints – 19

HAMPDEN-WILBRAHAM:

Green Meadows Elementary
Students restrained – 6
Total # of restraints – 34

STATEWIDE: 

Total number of students restrained at public schools in 2016-2017 academic year – 2,314

Total number of restraints – 9,070

CLICK HERE to read the state’s regulations on student restraints.

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