Rhode Island School Restraint Regulation

Rhode Island Regulation: 200-RICR-20-30-2 §2.1. Authority, scope, purpose and construction.


    • These regulations govern the use of physical restraint and crisis intervention on all students in publicly funded elementary and secondary education programs, including all Rhode Island public school districts and regional public school districts, all Rhode Island State Operated Schools, all Public Charter Schools, educational programs operated by the Department for Children Youth and Families, Educational Collaborative Programs, and Local Educational Agencies operating a public education program; all of which shall hereafter be referred to as public education programs.


    • The purpose of these regulations is to ensure that every student participating in a Rhode Island public education program be free from the unreasonable use of physical restraint and crisis intervention. ….The crisis intervention must not include procedures that intentionally cause pain, injury, trauma or humiliation.

These regulations do NOT preclude any teacher, employee or agent of a public education program from using reasonable force to protect students, other persons or themselves from imminent, serious, physical harm.

200-RICR-20-30-2 §2.2. Definitions.

    • Physical restraint/crisis intervention” means:”Manual restraint” means the use of physical intervention intended to hold a person immobile or limit a person’s movement by using body contact as the only source of physical restraint. Prone restraint is a type of manual restraint or hold that limits or controls the movement or normal functioning of any portion, or all, of a person’s body while the person is in a face-down position, but does not include the temporary controlling of a person in a prone position while transitioning to an alternative, safer form of restraint.

200-RICR-20-30-2 §2.3. Procedures and training.

    • Public education programs shall develop written procedures regarding appropriate responses to student behavior that may require the use of physical restraint/crisis intervention.
    • Methods for preventing student violence, self-injurious behavior, and suicide, including de-escalation of potentially dangerous behavior occurring among groups of students or with an individual student.
    • Required Training For All Staff. Each public education program shall designate personnel to determine a time and methods to provide all staff with training regarding the school’s physical restraint/crisis intervention policies. Such training shall occur at least annually not later than within the first month of each school year. The training shall include:
      • Program’s restraint policy
      • Identification of staff that have received physical restraint/crisis intervention training.
      • Training shall include procedures for preventing the need for physical restraint/crisis intervention, a description of dangerous behaviors that may indicate the need for physical restraint and a method for evaluating the risk of harm in individual situations in order to determine whether the use of physical restraint and crisis interventions are warranted.  Instructions on monitoring physical signs of distress and obtaining medical assistance.  Demonstration of proficiency in administering physical restraint/crisis intervention.

200-RICR-20-30-2 §2.4. Determining when physical restraint/Crisis intervention may be used.

    • Use of Restraint/Intervention. Physical restraint/crisis intervention may be used only in the following circumstances:
      • Non-physical interventions would not be effective; and
      • The student’s behavior poses a threat of imminent, serious, physical harm to self and/or others; and
      • If a behavioral intervention plan has been developed for the student, those various positive reinforcement techniques have been implemented appropriately and the child has failed to respond to those reinforcement techniques.

200-RICR-20-30-2 §2.5. Limitations and prohibitions.

    • Limitations on the Use of Restraints. Physical restraint/crisis intervention in a public education program shall be limited to the use of such reasonable force as necessary to protect a student or another member of the school community from assault or imminent, serious, physical harm.
    • No restraint shall be administered in such a way that the student is prevented from breathing or speaking.
    • Prone restraint shall not be used.
    • Program staff shall review and consider any known medical or psychological limitations and/or behavioral intervention plans regarding the use of physical restraint/crisis intervention on an individual student.

200-RICR-20-30-2 §2.8. Emergency situations.

    • These regulations shall not create a barrier to maintaining a safe school environment. While these regulations govern the use of physical restraint/crisis interventions, they do not limit the ability of school personnel or their agents from using reasonable force to protect students, other persons or themselves from imminent, serious physical harm.

Conflict. The legal standard of intervention in Rhode Island Law is imminent danger of bodily harm, whereas the standard of intervention in Rhode Island Code is serious bodily harm.  Serious physical harm means an injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes serious, permanent disfigurement or prolonged loss or impairment of the function of any body part or organ.  Under this intervention standard, teachers would not be able to intervene for most fights, broken arms, concussions, knife wounds that do not puncture vital organs or blood flow, simple fractures etc.  This regulation is contrary to Rhode Island Law.

Disclaimer. Nothing in this post is intended to create an attorney client relationship.  Nothing written or spoken constitutes legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice. There may be additional laws, rules, policies applicable to the use of restraint and force in your state. The above is an overview of information compiled from individual sources that are maintained and
updated with varying frequencies. While we attempt to keep the information current, readers should read the source information directly,  go to the source to check for updates or conduct further research.  For information and/or legal advice, consult with your attorney or States Attorney General.