LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Staff at public schools in Kentucky have been ordered to immediately stop using aikido martial art as a form of restraining students.
The order was sent in an e-mail dated Tuesday, Aug. 2, by Kentucky Commissioner of Education Stephen L. Pruitt, to Kentucky school superintendents, and reiterated during a Kentucky Board of Education meeting on Thursday.
According to Pruitt's e-mail, the order was issued in an effort to be compliant with the state's adoption of regulations in 2013 which prohibit school personnel using "prone or supine restraint."
Pruitt's e-mail states the following:
It has come to my attention that some school districts in our Commonwealth continue to train school personnel in techniques that involve prone or supine restraint . Not only are such physical restraints in direct violation of 704 KAR 7:160, they place our children in harm's way. We must do all we can to ensure that our children are treated with the highest level of dignity, respect and care."
Effective immediately, all districts with Core Teams trained to utilize prone or supine restraint, either internally or through any outside vendors including, but not limited to: Aikido Control Training (ACT), 100 Lewis Dr., Richmond, KY, shall prohibit Core Teams from involvement in physical restraint in any manner until Core Team members are trained through an alternative training source to use techniques which comply with 704 KAR 7:160. Any alternate training will be at the expense of the local district.
Additionally, Pruitt's e-mail requires school superintendents to submit to the Kentucky Department of Education a list of current physical restraint training vendors used by their districts, contact information for physical restraint training Certified Instructors, and their districts' policies on physical restraint and seclusion. The superintendents are required to provide that information by Tuesday, Aug. 9.
According to Pruitt, Jefferson County Public Schools is one of five districts in the state that have used aikido. JCPS spokesman Allison Martin says aikido was used at two JCPS schools: Buechel Metropolitan High School and Breckinridge Metropolitan High School. When Buechel Metropolitan High School and Kennedy Metropolitan High School merged to create Minor Daniels Academy, the technique was discontinued, leaving only Breckinridge Metropolitan High School security officers trained in the technique. At the end of the school year, Martin says the technique was phased out of Breckinridge Metropolitan High School.
The school district has come under fire for its restraining methods in the past.
In a letter sent to Superintendent Donna Hargens last month, Pruitt said he will deploy Kentucky Department of Education staff to JCPS to "specifically focus on the restraint and seclusion issue and to ensure that students are receiving the supports and protections they must have as required by law."
Pruitt added that if the review "indicates the presence of critically ineffective or inefficient management, a full management audit will be conducted and could lead to state assistance or state management of the district."
According to internal data kept by the district, JCPS students were restrained or secluded 4,403 times during the 2014-15 year, but the district only correctly reported 174 of those incidents to the Kentucky Department of Education.
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