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Chicago Public Schools Fully in Compliance with Physical Restraint & Time Out Staff Training Benchmark

21 August 2023

Staff Trained in Behavioral Interventions to Support and De-Escalate Situations Where a Student May Be a Danger to Self or Others

CPS Office of Communications

Phone: 773-553-1620
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CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced today that all District-run schools have met the first-day-of-school benchmark for training staff on physical restraint and time out (PRTO), as agreed upon with the Illinois State Board of Education. Over the past several months, CPS prioritized PRTO training to ensure personnel at every school were properly trained by August 21, 2023, a deadline that was set in collaboration with ISBE. This marks the first milestone in the District’s efforts to reduce incidents of physical restraint or time-out procedures, and build a sustainable plan for training and support.

“I appreciate the partnership on the part of CEO Martinez and his team at Chicago Public Schools since April to meet the goal of training staff at every school in the safe and appropriate use of restraint and time out. Having appropriately trained staff is critical in the rare situations when a student’s behavior puts them or others in imminent danger,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Tony Sanders. “The Illinois State Board of Education will continue to work with CPS to provide additional support and to maintain this level of training on an annual basis.”

As of today, all 517 District-run schools are in full compliance with having at least two staff members trained to de-escalate and manage student safety.

“CPS aims to create a safe learning environment for all students and the use of physical restraint in our schools should always be a last resort,” said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. “We thank our principals and staff for prioritizing this important training. We are proud to start the new school year with staff appropriately trained at every school and will continue to prioritize this important training for our school staff.”

School districts in Illinois are required to have a plan to ensure school staff are trained to manage situations where a student may be in imminent danger of hurting themselves or others. As part of an agreement with ISBE, every District-run school within CPS now has at least two staff members trained in de-escalation, physical restraint, and time-out procedures. As a District, CPS has committed to reducing incidents where a student would need to be physically restrained.

Physical restraint and time out are two of several behavioral interventions designed to protect students from immediate physical harm during a crisis when they may be a danger to themselves or others. The District’s physical restraint and time out policy requires training in crisis de-escalation, restorative practices, identifying signs of distress during physical restraint and time out, trauma-informed practices, behavior management practices, implicit bias, and physical management practices. Under this policy, physical restraint or management should only be used by trained personnel after all other less restrictive and intrusive measures have been tried and found to be ineffective. With all schools now having staff appropriately trained, the District will work with school leaders to maintain training credentials and reduce the use of physical restraint.

“Safety is always one of our top priorities and CPS is committed to maintaining a safe environment for all students and staff,” said CPS Interim Chief of Diverse Learner Supports and Services Richard Smith. “CPS will continue to promote more holistic measures to ensure the safety of students and staff and will continue to work to reduce the use of physical restraint and time out as behavioral interventions.”

The Chicago Board of Education recently formed the Special Education Advisory Committee to listen to and prioritize the diverse needs of the special education community. The committee, which is composed of CPS parents, special education advocates, CPS educators, and other stakeholders with a broad range of experiences within special education, held its first meeting on August 1, 2023. Over the coming months, the committee will focus on transforming the culture of the District’s Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services (ODLSS) and improving services to families.

“I want to thank everyone who helped ensure CPS met this milestone for PRTO training in anticipation of the new school year,” said Board of Education Member Mary Fahey Hughes, Chair of the Special Education Advisory Committee. “This is an important first step toward ensuring students are kept safe when they are in a state of crisis and there are plans for training additional CPS staff going forward.”

CPS will continue to provide staff training this year. All CPS school-based will be trained in time out procedures by the end of the first quarter of the school year and the District will continue to develop and implement additional measures to support student safety and well being. For more information, please visit the CPS website page on Physical Restraint and Time Out Procedures.