Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education



First Advisor

Pete Adamy


In the last several years there has been growing concern about the use of restraint and seclusion in school. Little is known about the use of seclusion in schools, particularly with students with disabilities. The purpose of this study was to discover: under what conditions are students with disabilities subject to seclusion in schools?

A grounded theory analysis was done of 26 due process hearings containing a complaint about the use of seclusion. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act provided the framework and the relation between IDEA and seclusion was included in the analysis. For the purpose of this study, seclusion is defined as “the involuntary confinement of a student alone in a room or area from which the student is physically prevented from leaving” (Council of Children with Behavioral Disorders [CCBD], 2009, p. 1).

The study identified seven conditions that lead to the seclusion interaction that were analyzed and mapped using Strauss and Corbin’s conditional matrix (1990). These conditions are, in order of lower to higher levels of significance and proximity to the seclusion event: a loose legal boundary, expert recommendation, a special education setting, manifestation of disability, ineffective behavior plan, negative connotation of disability, and the rationale for the seclusion event. The seclusion event is characterized by the rooms used for seclusion, the terms used to define it, the frequency and duration of the seclusion event, the exit criteria, and physical and mental health contraindications. The seclusion event resulted in several short and long term outcomes for students, including a placement trajectory that moved students into more restrictive settings.



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