Education Laws and Regulations

603 CMR 46.00

Prevention of Physical Restraint and Requirements If Used


Most Recently Amended by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, December 16, 2014. Effective January 1, 2016.

46.03: Use of Restraint

(1) Prohibition.

  1. (a) Mechanical restraint, medication restraint, and seclusion shall be prohibited in public education programs.

  2. (b) Prone restraint shall be prohibited in public education programs except on an individual student basis, and only under the following circumstances:

    1. The student has a documented history of repeatedly causing serious self-injuries and/or injuries to other students or staff;

    2. All other forms of physical restraints have failed to ensure the safety of the student and/or the safety of others;

    3. There are no medical contraindications as documented by a licensed physician;

    4. There is psychological or behavioral justification for the use of prone restraint and there are no psychological or behavioral contraindications, as documented by a licensed mental health professional;

    5. The program has obtained consent to use prone restraint in an emergency as set out in 603 CMR 46.03(1)(b), and such use has been approved in writing by the principal; and,

    6. The program has documented 603 CMR 46.03(1)(b) 1 through 5 in advance of the use of prone restraint and maintains the documentation.

  3. (c) Physical restraint, including prone restraint where permitted, shall be considered an emergency procedure of last resort and shall be prohibited in public education programs except when a student's behavior poses a threat of assault, or imminent, serious, physical harm to self or others and the student is not responsive to verbal directives or other lawful and less intrusive behavior interventions, or such interventions are deemed to be inappropriate under the circumstances.

  4. (d) All physical restraints, including prone restraint where permitted, shall be administered in compliance with 603 CMR 46.05.

(2) Physical restraint shall not be used:

  1. (a) As a means of discipline or punishment;

  2. (b) When the student cannot be safely restrained because it is medically contraindicated for reasons including, but not limited to, asthma, seizures, a cardiac condition, obesity, bronchitis, communication-related disabilities, or risk of vomiting;

  3. (c) As a response to property destruction, disruption of school order, a student's refusal to comply with a public education program rule or staff directive, or verbal threats when those actions do not constitute a threat of assault, or imminent, serious, physical harm; or

  4. (d) As a standard response for any individual student. No written individual behavior plan or individualized education program (IEP) may include use of physical restraint as a standard response to any behavior. Physical restraint is an emergency procedure of last resort.

(3) Limitations on use of restraint. Physical restraint in a public education program shall be limited to the use of such reasonable force as is necessary to protect a student or another member of the school community from assault or imminent, serious, physical harm.

(4) Referral to law enforcement or other state agencies. Nothing in 603 CMR 46.00 prohibits:

  1. (a) The right of any individual to report to appropriate authorities a crime committed by a student or other individual;

  2. (b) Law enforcement, judicial authorities or school security personnel from exercising their responsibilities, including the physical detainment of a student or other person alleged to have committed a crime or posing a security risk; or

  3. (c) The exercise of an individual's responsibilities as a mandated reporter pursuant to M.G.L. c. 119, § 51A. 603 CMR 46.00 shall not be used to deter any individual from reporting neglect or abuse to the appropriate state agency.

For an official copy of these regulations, please contact the State House Bookstore, at 617-727-2834 or visit Massachusetts State Bookstore.

Last Updated: March 25, 2021

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