About a year ago, an educator, Brian Dalla Mura, began sounding the alarm about the use of prone restraint and seclusion in the Harwood Union Unified School District (HUUSD). Over the last year, Brian has repeatedly spoken at HUUSD Board of Education meetings and talked to the press about the need for change. In July of 2022, HUUSD welcomed a new superintendent Dr. Mike Leichliter who had previously worked as a Superintendent in Pennsylvania. Last Fall, Dr. Leichliter put a moratorium on the use of prone restraint and seclusion into place while the district and the Board of Education reviewed the policy and practice within the district.
The Board of Education formed a committee to review the policy. Dr. Leichliter, Jon Berliner, the Director of Student Support Services, and others went to work to develop a plan and training to eliminate prone restraint and seclusion. The professional development plan included working with trauma-informed consultant Dyane Lewis Carrere. Dyane is the author of The Re-Set Process: Trauma-Informed Behavior Strategies. In her work, Dyane educates teachers and school leaders about how trauma occurs in the classroom and impacts learning, behavior, development, and relationships. She teaches an approach called the Re-Set Process, which is a structured yet flexible series of steps for addressing stress behavior.
Earlier this week, the HUUSD Board of Education passed an updated policy on restraint and seclusion. The new policy exceeds the state requirements and includes a ban on prone restraint. Seclusion will be extremely limited in the 2023/24 school year and entirely prohibited at the start of the 2024/25 school year. While some members of the board wanted seclusion to be wholly banned sooner, this is tremendous progress. We support the policy and appreciate all the hard work of the committee, the board of education, and the community. This policy and the accompanying training will mean a safer environment for the students, teachers, and staff of the Harwood Union Unified School District.
We appreciate all the effort in making this happen. We want to thank Brian Dalla Mura for bringing the issue to light and for all his advocacy work toward change. We also want to recognize the amazing leadership of Dr. Mike Leichliter, who was proactive in responding to the concerns raised by the community and who took swift action to impose a moratorium on the practices while the board and administration developed policy and practice. This is how it should be done.
Now it’s time to pass legislation in Vermont to ban prone restraint and seclusion in all schools!