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CR Schools and Department of Justice finalize agreement on seclusion and restraint

The Cedar Rapids Community School District (CRCSD) concluded its review with the U.S. Department of Justice and a final agreement relating to seclusion and physical restraint policies, procedures, and practices has been reached.

The Department of Justice stated that “[t]hroughout the investigation, the District fully cooperated with, and worked in good faith to respond to, all of the Department’s requests for information.”

“I’m proud of the hard work our staff have already done before and throughout this investigation,” said Superintendent Noreen Bush. “CRCSD welcomes the opportunity to continue to improve our practice to support our students.”

The DOJ has not identified to CRCSD any specific incident, complaint, child, or school as being the source of the ongoing review that began in October 2020. The review encompassed a collection of over 10,000 documents, numerous interviews of District and building-level administrators and staff, and site visits to several District schools.

As a result of this agreement, the District will be discontinuing the use of seclusion in all buildings and programs, effective 30 days from the date of the agreement. The District will also be making significant changes to limit the use of physical restraint and to rethink how student behavior is analyzed and responded to, District-wide. “Over the next 30 days, the District will be in communication with staff, parents, students, and other stakeholders about the changes on the horizon,” said Superintendent Bush. “This is hard, important work, and we are excited to be a leader in creating positive change for our students.”

In 2017, in response to concerns raised at the state level, the District embarked on systemic improvements in its response to student crisis behaviors. CRCSD believes this agreement with the Department of Justice will lead to further improvements that will benefit all students.

Crisis Prevention

What is Crisis Prevention?

Crisis Prevention is the process to provide district employees with prevention and de-escalating strategies to address student behaviors.  Understanding the underlying causes of our students’ behavior is a cornerstone of the Cedar Rapids Community School District’s process for Crisis Prevention. As a result, our ultimate goal is to find individual, student-centered, positive interventions that can replace challenging behavior.

What is the Role of Crisis Prevention in CRCSD Schools?

Our adoption of the Safety Care Crisis Prevention model ensures that district employees implement approaches to student behavior that are evidence-based, positive, and the least restrictive means of responding to each student. As a result, our efforts provide a heavy emphasis on prevention and de-escalation strategies such as truly knowing and understanding the reason for individual student behaviors, giving a student choices, listening to a student, and encouraging/collaborating with the student to find solutions.

The Cedar Rapids Community School District provides district-wide training designed to focus on prevention and de-escalation techniques and other alternatives to restraint and seclusion, as well as:

  • Evaluating risk of harm.
  • Monitoring for signs of distress.
  • Documenting incidents.
  • Safe, less-restrictive physical interventions to be used only as a last resort.

Our training equips district staff in utilizing decision-making skills to match the level of the response to the risk of the crisis, focusing on the least-restrictive response to ensure the safety and care of all learners. This includes recognizing the stages of an escalating crisis and learning evidence-based techniques to appropriately de-escalate.

Safety Teams at each school

Crisis Prevention is led by Safety Teams at all buildings and levels across the district. Safety Team members at each building are identified below:

Board of Education Presentations