Senate Bill 963: Restraint and Seclusion Laws

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Oregon Department of Education

Senate Bill 963: Restraint and Seclusion Laws

Dear Superintendents and Principals,

Thanks for your work fostering equity and excellence for every learner. I’m writing to update you on a new law to help us serve our students.

On June 6, 2019, Senate Bill 963 was signed into law by Governor Brown. This legislation changes the restraint and seclusion laws in Oregon public education programs. Its effective date is July 1, 2019 and ODE is available to provide technical assistance and field questions.

Definition of Restraint

SB 963 defines restraint as “the restriction of a student’s actions or movements by holding the student or using pressure or other means.” Restraint is to be used only when the student’s behavior “imposes a reasonable risk of imminent and substantial physical or bodily injury to the student or others” and “less restrictive interventions would not be effective.”

SB 963 lists circumstances that are not considered restraint. They include:

  • Holding a student’s hand or arm to escort the student safely and without the use of force from one area to another;
  • Assisting a student to complete a task if the student does not resist the physical contact; 
  • Providing reasonable intervention with the minimal exertion of force necessary if the intervention does not include a restraint prohibited under ORS 339.288 and the intervention is necessary to:
    • Break up a physical fight;
    • Interrupt a student’s impulsive behavior that threatens the student’s immediate safety, including running in front of a vehicle or climbing on unsafe structures or objects; or
    • Effectively protect oneself or another from an assault, injury or sexual contact with the minimum physical contact necessary for protection.

Prior to the passage of SB 963, the use of mechanical, chemical, or prone restraints were prohibited. SB 963 increases the types of restraints that are prohibited. They are as follows:

  • Chemical restraint;
  • Mechanical restraint;
  • Prone restraint;
  • Supine restraint;
  • Any restraint that involves the intentional and non-incidental use of a solid object, including a wall or the floor, to impede a student’s movement, unless the restraint is necessary to prevent an imminent life-threatening injury or to gain control of a weapon;
  • Any restraint that places, or creates a risk of placing, pressure on a student’s neck or throat;
  • Any restraint that places, or creates a risk of placing, pressure on a student’s mouth, unless the restraint is necessary for the purpose of extracting a body part from a bite;
  • Any restraint that impedes, or creates a risk of impeding, breathing;
  • Any restraint that involves the intentional placement of the hands, feet, elbow, knee or any object on a student’s neck, throat, genitals or other intimate parts;
  • Any restraint that causes pressure to be placed, or creates a risk of causing pressure to be placed, on the stomach or back by a knee, foot or elbow bone;
  • Any action designed for the primary purpose of inflicting pain.

SB 963 reinforces the reporting requirement mandate of ORS 339.297 by considering a district nonstandard under ORS 327.103 if not compliant with annual restraint and seclusion reporting.

The State Board of Education will adopt Oregon Administrative Rules to guide districts in the implementation of the SB 963 changes.

If you have questions or would like to be notified regarding the rule hearings, please contact Lisa Bateman at 503-947-5655.