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A Chapter 103 Checklist
for Parents

During and After an Incident
of Seclusion or Restraint


The State of Iowa updated its rules on corporal punishment, physical restraint (restraint), and physical confinement and detention (seclusion) in educational settings, effective January 2021. These rules are published in Chapter 103 of the Iowa Department of Education’s administrative rules and are referred to as “Chapter 103.”

The changes apply to employees of local public school districts, Area Education Agencies (AEAs), accredited private schools, and all of the children these employees serve regardless of the child’s age, disability or other factors. School boards or AEAs may adopt their own policies, but only if they exceed the minimum requirements of Iowa’s Chapter 103 rules. 281—103.1(256B,280)


This checklist, based on the Chapter 103 rules, will guide parents to understand the necessary documentation of an incident of seclusion or restraint involving their child. If parents have concerns they should document them in writing and ask the school to explain. A team meeting may be helpful to everyone to get on the same page.


  • The school contacted me or attempted to contact me no later than one hour or by the end of the school day (whichever came first) about my child’s incident of seclusion or restraint.
  • A report that documents the incident of seclusion or restraint was post marked or provided to me by the end of the third school day following the incident.
  • The names of employees who were involved in the seclusion or restraint were provided in writing along with their job title and date of their Chapter 103 training.
  • The documentation included the time the incident of seclusion or restraint started, ended and how long it lasted.
  • The documentation included approval given by an administrator if the seclusion or restraint of my child exceeded 15 minutes and every 30 minutes after that.
  • There is a clear description of my child’s actions before, during and after the incident of seclusion or restraint provided in the documentation.
  • There is a clear description of each involved employee’s actions before, during and after the incident of seclusion or restraint is provided in the documentation.
  • There is a description of other strategies that were attempted to avoid seclusion or restraint.
  • A clear description of any injuries to my child or others, and/or any property damage that resulted from this incident was documented.
  • If the rules of Chapter 103 were not followed, they were documented (i.e. physical requirements of seclusion room not met, approval not obtained at 15 minutes, use of non-approved restraint, etc.).

Debriefing Meeting Checklist

A debriefing meeting is required after the first incident of seclusion or restraint in a school year; whenever personal injury occurs; whenever suggested by a student’s IEP team; whenever agreed to by parent and school officials; and after 7 instances of seclusion and restraint. The purpose of a debriefing meeting is to improve future outcomes by reducing the likelihood of the problem behavior and future use of seclusion or restraint.

Documentation from the incident and this checklist will help guide the team through discussion and decision-making during the debriefing meeting for an incident of seclusion or restraint. The debriefing meeting must be held within 5 days of mailing the documentation of the incident of seclusion and restraint.

  • All required participants are in attendance for the debriefing meeting include: employees who administered the physical restraint or seclusion and the individual or administrator who approved continuation of the physical restraint or seclusion; an administrator or employee who was not involved in the occurrence; other relevant personnel designated by the school (such as principal, counselor, classroom teacher, special education teacher); and, if indicated by the student’s behavior in the instances prompting the debriefing, an expert in behavioral health, mental health, or another appropriate discipline.
  • The team identified what caused the incident resulting in the use of physical restraint or seclusion including patterns of behavior and the responses of the student and employees involved.
  • The team identified how the use of seclusion or restraint could have been avoided and how to prevent future incidents including positive behavioral supports. Brainstorm any alternative prevention and/or response strategies.
  • The team reviewed the student’s Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP), Individualized Health Plan (IHP), Individualized Education Program (IEP), 504 plan and/or Safety Plan, if applicable.
  • Plan necessary follow up actions and timelines (i.e. behavior assessments/ evaluation, revision of behavior intervention plan, IEP meeting, etc.).
  • A written report of the debriefing meeting within 3 school days of the debriefing meeting. Clarify how it will be provided and who parents can contact if they have questions.

Related Resources

• Seclusion and Restraint in Schools: Chapter 103
• Prior Written Notice
• Communication Matters
• Challenging Behavior in School
• ABCs of Challenging Behavior