Physically Restraining Students
A unit president calls OECTA’s Provincial Office because the school board is introducing a behavioural support plan and inviting teachers to learn how to physically restrain students. Once trained, these teachers could be called upon to restrain any student. The board views this as akin to receiving training to become a certified First Aid provider. The unit president is concerned about the liabilities teachers might face when they have received the training.
OECTA advises that no teacher should participate in this restraint training because it is not a duty of a teacher. The participating teacher would be subject to all the potential professional liabilities incurred through this activity, while the Board assumes minimal legal liabilities.
The Unit President is advised to inform the Board, in writing that because restraint is provided by another bargaining unit (i.e. educational assistants), and because restraint training is not a duty of a teacher, members of the Unit will not be participating in voluntary training. Some boards maintain that restraint training is a duty of a teacher under the Education Act. OECTA legal counsel is of the opinion that this is not a duty of a teacher. The Unit members should be informed of this position in the Unit newsletter.
Members should also be informed that they could be subject to prosecution due to complaints from parents and students. Teachers have been investigated by police, Children’s Aid Society and the Ontario College of Teachers due to actions arising from physical contact with students leading to grave difficulties for the member.
Even though many Boards have developed behaviour support programs, they have not declared that they will assume costs for liabilities assigned to a teacher who restrains a student. It is not in a member’s best interest to needlessly expose themselves to legal investigation and/or prosecution by participating in a physical restraint program. Beyond the legal implications, teachers have been seriously injured while performing such actions. Unfortunately, Workplace Safety and Insurance Boardbenefits are often difficult for those teachers to receive because school boards actively oppose compensation for the injured teacher.