School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Gail Collins


Physical Restraint, Public School, Self-Determination Theory, Self-efficacy Theory, Special Education Teacher, Students With Disabilities


Accessibility | Disability and Equity in Education | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Methods | Educational Psychology


The performance of physical restraints on students with disabilities has become a significant interest to the legislative and disability communities in recent years. A report from the USDOE Department of Civil Rights (2018) indicated that while students with disabilities make up only 12% of the student population, these students account for 71% of the physical restraints in public schools. To date, little research has been identified involving physical restraints in public schools. This transcendental phenomenological study collected data from 10 special educators in a school district in Southeast Tennessee who were involved in the physical restraint of students with disabilities using a demographics questionnaire, individual open-ended interviews, a focus group, and debriefing interviews. Data analysis included the horizonalization (Moustakas, 1994) of all transcripts derived from data collection methods to explore textural and structural descriptions and to fuse the essence of the phenomenon to answer the following central research question: What are the experiences of special education teachers involved in the physical restraint of students with disabilities? Data analysis occurred using Atlas.ti software and three themes emerged: (a) keep everyone safe, (b) build your toolbox, and (c) it is what it is. The presentation of the findings included their relation to self-determination theory and self-efficacy theory.