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Restraint and Seclusion News
This section provides updates on changes and activities in restraint and seclusion practices and policies. The most current update is listed first.
August 8, 2012: LRS responds to recent media coverage on seclusion in Ohio's schools
This week, The Columbus Dispatch and StateImpact Ohio reported on the use of seclusion rooms in Ohio's schools. Reporters from both news organizations conducted research by reviewing records from selected school districts across the state and interviewing students, parents, and representatives of organizations, including the Ohio Legal Rights Service (LRS). LRS applauds the media's efforts to bring to light an issue that requires increased public attention: the inappropriate use of seclusion and restraint in school districts throughout Ohio.
LRS' position on seclusion and restraint has been consistent over the years: Ohio should not and cannot permit the use of seclusion in our schools. LRS, like the media exposé, calls on the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to promulgate comprehensive rules that will require all school districts in Ohio to immediately develop and implement a policy on the use of seclusion and restraint.
Read the entire article: LRS responds to recent media coverage on seclusion in Ohio's schools
August 5, 2012: In the media - The misuse of seclusion rooms in Ohio's schools
The Columbus Dispatch and StateImpact Ohio, through print and radio, are running a feature on the use of seclusion rooms in Ohio's schools. Reporters from The Dispatch and StateImpact did research and conducted interviews with organizations, students, and parents, including the Ohio Legal Rights Service (LRS).
Ohio is a state that has no restrictions on seclusion and restraint in schools. The Ohio Legal Rights Service (LRS) has urged the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to develop rules regulating restraints, seclusion and aversives. ODE's lack of rules provides little protection for Ohio's children, including those who are most often restrained: children with disabilities. LRS continues to represent students with disabilities who have been injured and traumatized during incidents of school restraint and seclusion and to press ODE to develop rules.
- The Columbus Dispatch: Education: Isolation chambers
- The Columbus Dispatch: New policy won't end 'seclusion rooms'
- StateImpact Ohio: Locked Away: Seclusion Rooms in Ohio Schools
- All Sides with Ann Fisher: The Use of Seclusion Rooms in Schools
- Cincinnati Enquirer: Use of 'seclusion rooms' divides educators
July 12, 2012: Parents and others testify before Senate Committee on the need for a law to restrict the use of restraint and seclusion
The Washington Post reports that parents urged the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to limit the ability of state school systems to have special education students physically restrained while in class. Read the article: Mother of special-ed boy who was restrained and secluded advocates for disciplinary law
Education Week also provided coverage: At Senate Hearing, Witnesses Offer Alternatives to Restraints, Seclusion
May, 22, 2012: Police Handcuffing 7-Year-Olds? The Brutality Unleashed on Kids With Disabilities in Our School Systems
News article from AlterNet: As school budgets are cut, disabled students are being handed over to police for behavioral infractions -- and handcuffs are just the beginning of what they're forced to endure. Read the article: Police Handcuffing 7-Year-Olds? The Brutality Unleashed on Kids With Disabilities in Our School Systems
May 15, 2012: U.S. Department of Education issues resource document on avoiding the use of restraint and seclusion
The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) issued a publication, Restraint and Seclusion: Resource Document (PDF file), outlining principles for educators, parents and other stakeholders to consider when developing or refining policies and procedures to support positive behavioral interventions and avoid the use of restraint and seclusion. According to a DOE press release, the goal of the resource document is to help ensure that schools are safe and healthy environments where all students can learn, develop and participate in instructional programs that promote high levels of academic achievement. The document also provides a synopsis of ongoing efforts by federal agencies to address national concerns about using restraint and seclusion in schools, and includes links to state restraint and seclusion policies and procedures.
Ohio Legal Rights Service (LRS) has expressed its concerns to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) on several occasions about the continued use of restraint and seclusion in Ohio's schools and has urged ODE to adopt rules regarding the use of restraint and seclusion in school settings. A State of Ohio Policy issued in May 2010 established minimum standards required to implement safeguards and oversight when using physical restraint or seclusion practices. The policy also instructed specific state agencies, including ODE, to develop policies to that effect. However, ODE has yet to establish policies that specifically address the use of restraint and seclusion in schools.
March 21, 2012: Disability advocacy group disputes findings of School Administrators' report on restraint and seclusion practices
The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) criticized a report released by the American Association of School Administrator's (AASA), stating that the report lacks information about the survey or its methodology, including any citations to sources. CCD, in an interview with Education Week, stated "With no source cited, the AASA simply asserts that 99 percent of school personnel use seclusion and restraint safely and only when needed. This assertion is not supported by any facts."CCD also expressed concern over the claim that school personnel are properly trained on restraint and seclusion procedures.
The organization's concerns and recommendations were sent in a letter to the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Read more: Advocates Press Congress to Act on Restraints, Seclusion
March 20, 2012: LRS urges ODE to act immediately to implement rules to stop restraint and seclusion of children in Ohio's schools
Ohio Legal Rights Service (LRS) staff recently supported a young woman as she spoke to the Ohio State Board of Education. This young woman shared about her experiences of abuse, physical and emotional trauma, isolation from other students, and the potential lethality of restraint and seclusion administered by school personnel. Her statement to the board came at great personal cost to her, dredging up very painful memories for her and her family. She did not use her full name during the testimony for fear of retaliation. She chose to speak to the Board because she cannot abide knowing that children are being hurt and traumatized, as she was, with their potential for bright futures shattered by the very schools that should be preparing them to be productive citizens.
LRS has advocated as part of a broad coalition of people with disabilities, their family members, and other interest groups to ask the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to issue rules to regulate the use of restraint and seclusion on students with disabilities. In 2009, LRS submitted a letter to the Director of the Office of Exceptional Children (PDF file), asserting that ODE put rules, not policies, in place and that, during the rulemaking process, a Directive be issued to keep students safe in the interim. To date that effort has been unsuccessful.
LRS reiterates the recommendation that springs from this young woman's harrowing experiences: ODE should immediately put rules in place. ODE's intent to issue policies with a three-year timeline is not adequate. Policies will not provide accountability or student safety. Nor is it adequate to re-establish a task force that had already made strong recommendations on this only to be ignored by ODE. Every day ODE does not act to protect them, children will be harmed.
Just as the courageous young woman who spoke before the board said during her testimony, LRS hopes that it does not take the death of a student in restraint or seclusion for the board and ODE to act.
March 15, 2012: Survivor of school restraint and seclusion provides recommendations to the Ohio State Board of Education
A young adult with disabilities who survived restraint and seclusion in an Ohio public school described her experiences to the Ohio State Board of Education, and asked that immediate action be taken to protect children. Representatives of the Ohio Legal Rights Service (LRS) supported her as she spoke to the board at the March 2012 meeting.
The young woman described how she had loved school, was an excellent student and a star athlete and had many friends until her family moved one school district away. Then everything changed.
At her new school she was belittled, intimidated and abused by teachers and administrators. She told of being locked in a windowless concrete basement closet. She was denied access to school work, and allowed out of the room only three times a day for bathroom breaks. She spent many consecutive days in this room. She told of being pulled into an administrator's office during lunch period and denied anything to eat or drink. She gave many examples of abuse and neglect at the hands of school personnel.
This young woman described how school administrators tried to paint her as a bad kid so no one would believe her. She noted her belief that the school retaliated against her because her parent worked hard to advocate for her, and made complaints to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE).
She reported that the ODE representative told school administrators that they must stop putting her in the locked seclusion room. The next week, an administrator again ordered her to the locked room. She reminded him that the ODE representative said this should stop, and she tried to return to class. She was physically abused and emotionally traumatized over several hours. That was her last day of school.
The young woman told members of the Board of Education that she had been 15 years old, in the 10th grade, afraid she was going to die and told by school administrators that she had no future.
She now lives with post traumatic stress disorder and social phobias. Despite how hard it is to be in the public eye, and knowing the reality of retaliation, this young woman provided testimony because she does not want more children to be hurt and their dreams for bright futures crushed. She asked members of the Board of Education how a child with disabilities can go to one school district and thrive and be happy and successful, then move to another and have exactly the opposite experience. She asked why the Board allows schools to restrain and seclude students. She asked, if she had died in school, would there be a law named for her, like New York's Jonathon's Law, after that thirteen-year-old child was killed by a direct caregiver. She asked if the death of a child in restraint or seclusion in school is what it will take for the Board to act.
This young woman reminded Board members that restraint and seclusion cause injuries or worse, and that children are scarred emotionally by their use. She reminded the Board that there is nothing educational or therapeutic about using restraint and seclusion on children in schools.
She also asked what is stopping the Board from requiring ODE to put an effective rule in place. She asked why would the Board or ODE object to clear definitions of restraint and seclusion and require that they be used only in an emergency when a student is an immediate danger to self or others. She asked why would the Board object to requiring that any school personnel who restrains or secludes a student have prior training in accepted techniques that are not likely to cause injury or trauma. And what objections could there be for schools to provide students with disabilities with positive behavior interventions, and require educators to be trained to use these interventions and engage students in individualized plans? She asked why would anybody not want all use of restraint or seclusion to be reported to parents and ODE, and for ODE to provide public reports.
She stated that regulations are needed, and that she and others with similar experiences know what good rules should include.
The young woman summed up her experience by saying that her future was stolen from her. Addressing the Board, she said, "You are responsible for the safety of children in Ohio schools. Please protect them now. You failed to protect me."
Her testimony resulted in praise for her courage in coming before the Board, and also some apologies from Board members for the cruel treatment she endured. The State Board assured her that they would take action to ensure that other children are protected from the kind of abuse she experienced.
The Board asked ODE for a response. ODE staff reported the Department is working internally on drafting policies for restraint and seclusion for Ohio public schools and suggested a three-year timeline. LRS responded that policies will not provide accountability and that rules must be put in place. LRS noted that students will continue to be abused in districts large and small across the state while waiting for ODE to act to keep students safe, and regulate the use of restraint and seclusion.
March 14, 2012: TASH calls American Association of School Administrators' report "ill-informed and reckless"
TASH, an international disability advocacy organization, responded to a report released by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) condoning the use of restraint and seclusion in schools. TASH called the report "unsubstantiated, ill-informed and reckless" and issued its response to "bring clarity and truth to the conversation." In the report, the AASA asserts if school districts are unable to use restraint or seclusion, then students with severe behavioral or emotional disorders would have to be institutionalized or sent to private facilities. TASH points out that these facilities often do not provide the same rights and services to students. TASH emphasized that restraint and seclusion is a dangerous and traumatic experience for everyone involved and is used most often for convenience and punishment rather than emergencies.
For more information:
- TASH Responds to AASA Position Supporting Restraint and Seclusion in Schools
- Report on Necessity of Restraints, Seclusion 'Reckless,' Advocates Say
March 6, 2012: NDRN calls upon Department of Education to take action against restraint and seclusion practices
More must be done to reduce and prevent the use of restraint and seclusion on school children, according to a new report issued by the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN). The report is the third in a series on restraint and seclusion called "School is Not Supposed to Hurt" and calls upon the U.S. Department of Education to take action to protect children with disabilities who are subjected to restraint and seclusion in schools across America.
In this report, NDRN argues that the U.S. Department of Education should:
- Issue strong national guidance to state education agencies and local school districts about when the use of restraint and seclusion might violate anti-discrimination and education laws;
- Coordinate a national summit of researchers, educators, mental health professionals and others to discuss whether restraint and seclusion has any therapeutic value and to develop evidence-based best practices to prevent and reduce the use of restraint and seclusion;
- Prevent future injuries and deaths by investigating restraint and seclusion and requiring school districts to take appropriate corrective action; and
- Define the scope of the problem and how to address it by immediately using data it has collected for the 2009-2010 school year about the use of restraint and seclusion.
January 12, 2012: LRS joins other organizations in supporting the Keeping All Students Safe Act
The Ohio Legal Rights Service (LRS) joined over 175 national, state and local organizations in signing a letter supporting the Keeping All Students Safe Act (Senate Bill 2020), a bill designed to protect all school children against harmful and life-threatening seclusion and restraint practices by establishing minimum standards of protection. The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. (COPAA), the National Disability Rights Network and The Autism National Committee wrote the letter and are asking organizations across the nation to sign the letter to show support for this important legislation. The deadline to sign the letter is January 20, 2012 and can be signed online: Keeping All Students Safe Act - S. 2020.
The bill was introduced to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions by Chairman Tom Harkin on December 16, 2011. Under the bill, physical restraint will be prohibited except in emergency situations when there is an immediate threat of serious bodily injury. The bill bans seclusion of children in locked areas or areas from which they cannot exit. It bans restraint that interferes with breathing or the ability to communicate, and mechanical and chemical restraints. It requires schools to notify parents within 24 hours of restraint. If there is imminent danger of harm staff may only use the degree of force necessary to stop the threat of harm. It requires the collection of data to improve decision-making and provide the public with information about practices long kept secret.
September 8, 2011: Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee asks U.S. Health and Human Services to lead charge to limit restraint and seclusion
Disability Scoop reports that a letter from the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee to the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asks HHS to coordinate with federal education and justice officials on the use of the controversial practices in schools and other settings.
June 17, 2011: Florida governor signs legislation related to the use of restraint and seclusion
The Florida legislature passed House Bill 1255 and the Governor signed the bill into law on June 17, 2011. The bill is an act related to educational accountability and impacts multiple statutes related to individuals with disabilities. In particular, a portion of the bill addresses seclusion and restraint for students with disabilities.
April 7, 2011: Restraint and seclusion bill reintroduced
House Bill 1381, the Keeping All Students Safe Act, was reintroduced and the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) announced its support for the passage of the bill. The legislation, which passed in the House last year but not the Senate, addresses the use of restraint and seclusion on children in schools.
NDRN stated that the bill considers many of the problems documented in NDRN's 2009 report, School is Not Supposed to Hurt (PDF file), including inconsistent or non-existent standards; lack of procedures to inform parents and guardians of incidents where restraint or seclusion is used; lack of training among teachers who use restraint and seclusion; and lack of reporting of such incidents. NDRN also noted that there is a disturbing nationwide trend of the use of restraint and seclusion, denying students full and safe inclusion in the nation's education system.
Read NDRN's press release: House Reintroduces Keeping All Students Safe Act
Ohio Legal Rights Service (LRS) is a member of NDRN, a nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and Client Assistance Programs (CAP) of each state for people with disabilities. Collectively, the P&A/CAP network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.
Other media coverage:
- Federal Bill on Restraint, Seclusion Resurrected (Education Week)
- Miller Introduces Legislation to Protect Students in School from Harmful Abuse (Education News)
- School Restraint, Seclusion Bill Resurfaces In Congress (Disability Scoop)
January 6, 2011: LRS and OCECD urge Ohio Dept. of Education to establish policies restricting use of restraint and seclusion
Ohio Legal Rights Service (LRS) and the Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities (OCECD), concerned about the continued use of restraint and seclusion in Ohio's schools, sent a letter to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) reiterating their request that the Department adopt rules regarding the use of restraint and seclusion in school settings. According to the letter, a State of Ohio Policy issued in May 2010 established minimum standards required to implement safeguards and oversight when using physical restraint or seclusion practices. The policy also instructed specific state agencies, including ODE, to develop policies to that effect. However, ODE has yet to establish policies that specifically address the use of restraint and seclusion in schools.
The letter asks ODE to advise LRS and OCECD on the Department's plan to comply with the State Policy, concluding that "we look forward to the day when ODE provides sorely needed protection of Ohio's schoolchildren from dangerous and abusive practices."
Read the letter from LRS and OCECD: Status of State Policy on Restraint and Seclusion Practices (PDF file)
November 2, 2010: Disability Advocates Split On Restraint, Seclusion Reform
Disability Scoop reports that the Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion (APRAIS) remains undecided on its position on Senate Bill 3895.
Read the article: Disability Advocates Split On Restraint, Seclusion Reform
October 26, 2010: NDRN supports Senate Bill 3895
The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) adopted the recommendation of its Legislative Committee for NDRN's position on Senate Bill 3895, the new Senate version of legislation concerning restraint and seclusion in schools. The statement reads:
"This legislation responds to a critical need identified by the P&As [Protection & Advocacy Systems] and NDRN for strong, consistent national standards regarding the use of restraint and seclusion. While NDRN recognizes that there are reservations about allowing restraint and seclusion in an Individualized Education Program (IEP), we believe that the criteria contained in this legislation for when these interventions can be utilized or written into an IEP are sufficient to ensure this occurs only in very limited circumstances. On balance, the benefits of establishing national standards, together with creating a threshold for their enforcement, outweigh the ever present risks that restraint and seclusion will be misapplied. Therefore, we support this legislation and believe it should be passed."
NDRN is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated P&A Systems and Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for people with disabilities. The Ohio Legal Rights Service is Ohio's P&A and CAP.
October 26, 2010: COPAA opposes Senate Bill 3895
Disability Scoop reports that the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) informed Congress that the group opposes the current version of Senate Bill 3895 (restraint & seclusion bill) because of the IEP provision that would allow planned interventions to be included in an IEP.
Read the Disability Scoop article: Disability Group Comes Out Against Restraint, Seclusion Bill
October 22, 2010: U.S. Department of Education states it will stay out of restraint & seclusion debate
Disability Scoop reports that a top special education official of the U.S. Department of Education told a federal autism panel that the department has no official position on whether or not restraint and seclusion should be included in students' individualized education programs (IEP).
Read the Disability Scoop article: Education Department Staying Out Of Restraint, Seclusion Debate
April 23, 2010: LRS files complaint in case involving restraint of student with autism
Ohio Legal Rights Service (LRS) filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Western Division seeking relief for an 11-year-old child with autism and developmental disabilities who was allegedly abused by his special education teacher and aide. The alleged abuse occurred in a classroom during a prone restraint.
LRS states in the complaint that all medical opinions conclude that the student was abused during the prone restraint. The extreme force and pressure applied during the restraint episode by the teacher and her aide caused intradermal hemorrhaging indicating the student's blood flow and oxygen were obstructed. The complaint alleges that the manner in which the teacher and the aide restrained the student was reckless and completely outside of any professionally acceptable method and was conducted in conscious disregard for the student's rights and safety.
The complaint claims the Defendants violated the student's rights under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by failing to protect the student's due process right to personal security and to be free from bodily harm at the hands of state actors, such as teachers, aides and administrators. The named Defendants include the teacher, classroom aide, school district, educational service center and all agencies, governing boards and personnel responsible for the implementation and supervision of the special education program.
A jury trial was requested by the Plaintiff. Read the complaint (PDF file)
March 24, 2010: Restraint & seclusion facts and survey
LRS has published a fact sheet on using positive behavior supports to prevent restraint and seclusion in schools. LRS also encourages parents to take a survey if their child has been restrained or secluded in school. Read more: LRS publishes fact sheet on restraint and seclusion in schools; Encourages parents to take survey about their child's experiences
March 22, 2010: LRS will provide training sessions on restraint and seclusion in schools
LRS will conduct training sessions on seclusion and restraint in Ohio schools as part of the Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities (OCECD) regional training program. Susan G. Tobin, Chief Legal Counsel and Beth Oberdier, Disability Rights Advocate with LRS will discuss the use of restraint and seclusion in schools, including:
- Effects on children when they are repeatedly restrained or secluded
- Federal law requirements for addressing behavioral problems in schools
- Scope of the problem in Ohio
- Options for parents in addressing the use of restraints with their children
- Use of positive behavioral programs
The trainings, "Tied up and Pinned down: Seclusion and Restraints in Ohio Schools," will be offered at five locations throughout Ohio.
- Byesville: March 25, 10 a.m. - noon
- Athens: March 30, 1 - 3 p.m.
- Columbus: April 21, 10 a.m. - noon
- Middleburg Heights: April 29, 1 - 3 p.m
- Dayton: May 7, 1 - 3 p.m.
- Cincinnati: May 26, 1 - 3 p.m.
For more information and to register, go to the OCECD Web site: Tied Up and Pinned Down: Seclusion and Restraints in Ohio Schools
March 11, 2010: Office for Civil Rights will collect restraint and seclusion data
The U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) added questions on restraint and seclusion to its Civil Rights Data Collection. OCR will begin collecting restraint and seclusion data this fall. According to an online article from Special Ed Connection, legislators feel that having restraint and seclusion data will provide support for the proposed Keeping All Students Safe Act (HR 4247) since there is currently an absence of such data.
March 3, 2010: House approves restraint & seclusion bill
The House approved the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (H.R. 4247) by a vote of 262 to 153. The bill would establish minimum federal standards to limit the physical restraint and seclusion of students in schools.
Read media coverage:
- Washington Post: House approves bill to limit physical restraint of students
- New York Times: House Votes to Protect Pupils Against Abusive Discipline
- AP: House bill limits school use of restraints
March 2, 2010: Private schools seek to block restraint & seclusion bill:
Disability Scoop reports in an online article that the Council for American Private Education (CAPE) is working to block the federal restraint and seclusion bill. According to the article, CAPE is "concerned that provisions of the bill are too far-reaching and could inhibit a teacher from 'breaking up a schoolyard dust-up' or 'grabbing a child about to dart into the carpool lane at dismissal.' Further, they say private schools should not be subject to this type of federal oversight." Read the article: Ahead Of House Vote, Private Schools Seek Restraint, Seclusion Exemption
March 1, 2010: House to vote on restraint & seclusion bill
The House of Representatives will vote on the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (H.R. 4247) this week. This legislation will establish minimum federal standards regarding restraint and seclusion in schools. If you want to contact your Congressional representative, call 202-224-3121 or TTY 202-225-1904.
February 24, 2010: State-by-state report released
Summary of state restraint and seclusion policies released by Department of Education
February 22, 2010: TASH announces National Call-In Day on February 26 to ask for support for the restraint and seclusion bill
TASH, on behalf of APRAIS (Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion), is asking people with disabilities and advocates to contact Congress and the Senate on Friday, February 22. The purpose is to ask Representatives and Senators to support the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (H.R. 4247/S.2860). For more information from TASH: APRAIS
February 22, 2010: TASH, an advocacy organization, releases survey results
TASH, an advocacy organization, released the results of a survey the organization conducted of parents and caregivers of children with disabilities to gather information about experiences with the use of restraints, seclusion and aversive procedures. Read the summary: Restraints, Seclusion and Aversive Procedures (PDF file)
February 17, 2010: Progress in other states to eliminate restraint and seclusion in schools
In Kentucky, a televised news report highlighted a restraint incident involving a 9-year-old boy at school and the need for the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) to change the state's guidelines on seclusion and restraint in schools. According to Kentucky Protection and Advocacy, the KDE provides some guidance on the use of time-out rooms, but does not have any guidelines on the use of restraint. Read more: Kentucky works towards curbing abuse in public schools
Disability Rights North Carolina (DRNC) released a report detailing DRNC's investigations on the use of prone restraints on student with disabilities in the North Carolina public school system. DRNC states in the report, "With no state or federal laws specifically banning dangerous restraint and seclusion practices, the reforms must be carried out one school system at a time." This report highlights several cases where restraint and/or seclusion was used and emphasizes DRNC's concern that "North Carolina must stop these practices before a student dies." Read more: Seclusion and Restraint: A Dangerous Education
February 9, 2010: Former employees acquitted in prone restraint death
Three former employees of Parmadale Family Services were acquitted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a 17-year-old during a prone restraint episode. Read more from the Akron Beacon Journal: 3 acquitted in Ohio teen's restraint death
February 4, 2010: Restraint & Seclusion bill passes House committee
The House Education and Labor Committee passed the Preventing Harmful Seclusion and Restraint in Schools Act by a 34-10 vote today. The bill will now go before the full House for consideration and a vote. Read more: Restraint and Seclusion bill passes House Education and Labor Committee
February 2, 2010: News story about how the restraint and seclusion bill came to be
"The Hill" writes about the background of what led to the introduction of the restraint and seclusion bill. Read more: The Story Behind The Bill: Rep. Miller finds school discipline too extreme
February 2, 2010: NDRN releases progress report
The National Disability Rights Network released a follow-up report to its January 2009 investigation, "School is Not Supposed to Hurt." The report updates the progress made in 2009 on reducing or eliminating the use of seclusion and restraint on schoolchildren and developing state and federal regulations. Read more: Update on progress in 2009 to prevent and reduce restraint and seclusion in schools
January 27, 2010: Department of Education to provide state data
Disability Scoop reports that representatives of the U.S. Department of Education will release information about state laws, regulations, policies and guidelines for restraint and seclusion within weeks. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, according to an article by Disability Scoop, "pledged to have a 'real clear plan' in place in every state for handling restraint and seclusion at the start of the school year." However, that remains to be seen. Pressure from Disability Scoop and other organizations, including the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) prompted this action by the Department. Read more: Under Pressure, Duncan To Release States' Restraint And Seclusion Policies
January 19, 2009: TASH announces National Call-In Day on January 21 to ask for support for the restraint and seclusion bill
TASH, an advocacy organization, is asking people with disabilities and advocates to contact Congress on Thursday, January 21. The purpose is to tell members of Congress to support the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (H.R. 4247/S.2860). For more information from TASH: TASH Action Alert announcement (PDF file)
December 16, 2009: Wrightslaw offers overview of the proposed legislation
Wrightslaw provides an overview of the proposed restraint and seclusion legislation covering the safeguards in the bill, what is prohibited, how it will impact children with disabilities and the requirements for compliance and data reporting. Read the overview: Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act What Does It Mean For Children with Disabilities?
December 15, 2009: Response from education officials
Education officials respond to the introduction of the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in the School Act. Read more: Education officials react to the proposed restraint and seclusion legislation
December 14, 2009: Most states yet to take action
Read a report in USA Today: Since hearing, states take little action on restraint in schools
December 11, 2009: U.S. Dept. of Education comments on restraint and seclusion bills
Secretary of Education Duncan, in a letter, applauded Rep. Miller's efforts to address the issue of restraint and seclusion in schools. Duncan also identified a number of principles the Department of Education believes would be useful for Congress to consider on the recently introduced legislation. Read the letter to Rep. Miller from Secretary of Education Duncan (PDF file)
December 9, 2009: Bill introduced on restraint and seclusion in schools
Legislation to prevent harmful restraint and seclusion in schools was introduced today in U.S. Congress and a companion bill in the U.S. Senate. Federal legislation introduced to protect all children in schools from abuse and restraint
September 30, 2009: Parents and guardians asked to take survey on restraint and seclusion in schools and facilities
APRAIS, The Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion, is a coalition of 17 national disability advocacy organizations and is conducting a research study. Part of the study involves collecting information through a survey of parents and guardians, to establish the extent to which restraint, seclusion and aversive procedures have been used with students with disabilities in public or private schools or residential facilities. The aggregate data from this survey will be published in an academic journal and shared with Congress. [The survey is now closed.]
September 24, 2009: School in Tennessee defends use of seclusion room
The Daily Herald, a newspaper in Tennessee, reported about how school officials claim they followed state law when a teacher put a 9-year-old child in a seclusion room, described as "closet-like space." Read the article: Schools defend isolation rooms
September 12, 2009: 5-year-old twins restrained in Ohio school
An article in the Columbus Dispatch described an incident at a Newark, Ohio school where twins who are in kindergarten were restrained using Velcro straps around their stomachs and bungee strap to keep them from sliding their chairs. Read the article: School wrongly restrained 5-year-old twins, mom says; Newark special-ed class used straps
September 9, 2009: ODJFS requests comments on proposed rule
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) is proposing changes to their licensure rules as a result of the Governor's executive order banning the use of prone restraints. Rule 5101:2-5-13 entitled "Required agency policies, plans and procedures" was amended to prohibit prone restraints for an extended period of time, to provide guidance on transitional holds and to eliminate repetitive agency policy requirements. The rule is currently in clearance review and comments will be taken through September 18, 2009. Read the rule: ODJFS Clearances
September 2, 2009: Workers charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of a 17-year-old girl
Several news sources reported that three former workers of the Parmadale Family Services were charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of a 17-year-old girl. The death of the girl occurred after being restrained face-down by the workers.
August 3, 2009: Ban on prone restraints
Governor Strickland signs an executive order banning the use of prone restraints. Read more: Governor signs executive order to ban prone restraints
August 3, 2009: U.S. Education Secretary directs state education officials to review their state's current policies
U.S. Department of Education Secretary Duncan sent a letter to each state's chief school official encouraging them to "review its current policies and guidelines regarding the use of restraints and seclusion in schools to ensure every student is safe and protected, and if appropriate, develop or revise its policies and guidelines." Secretary Duncan referred to the policies in Illinois, where the approach focuses on Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports and state regulations that limit the use of seclusion and restraint under most circumstances, as a best practice. The Secretary stated that the Education Department will follow up with each state in August to monitor the status of the development or revision of their policies. Read the letter: Key Policy Letters Signed by the Education Secretary or Deputy Secretary
July 7, 2009: Newspaper report on abuse and restraint
Read an article from the U.S. News and World report on abuse and restraint: Students Suffer Abusive Restraint, GAO Says
July 6, 2009: Newspaper report on abuse and restraint
Read an article from The Wall Street Journal about the call to ban the use of restraints: Federal Ban Sought On Student Restraint.
June 26, 2009: National Autism Association launches campaign about restraint and seclusion in schools
The National Autism Association (NAA), in collaboration with 12 other organizations, launched a campaign in June to encourage people to write letters and to raise awareness about dangerous restraint and seclusion practices in schools. Read more: Autism Organizations Aim to End Restraint and Seclusion in Schools
June 1, 2009: LRS publishes special edition newsletter on restraint and seclusion
LRS reports on agency, state and national efforts and activities on restraint and seclusion. Read the newsletter: News from OLRS - Special Edition on Seclusion and Restraint
May 19, 2009: House Committee on Education and Labor holds hearing
The House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing to examine abusive and deadly uses of seclusion and restraint in U.S. schools. Examining the Abusive and Deadly Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Schools
May 19, 2009: GAO issues report on use of seclusion and restraints in schools
A report issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found "no federal laws restricting the use of seclusion and restraints in public and private schools and widely divergent laws at the state level." The GAO investigated hundreds of cases nationwide of alleged abuse and death related to seclusion and restraint and also examined the details of ten restraint and seclusion cases in which there was a criminal conviction, a finding of civil or administrative liability, or a large financial settlement. The report stated that the cases shared the following common themes: they involved children with disabilities who were restrained and secluded, often in cases where they were not physically aggressive and their parents did not give consent; restraints that block air to the lungs can be deadly; teachers and staff in the cases were often not trained on the use of seclusions and restraints; and teachers and staff from at least 5 of the 10 cases continue to be employed as educators. Read the report: Seclusions and Restraints: Selected Cases of Death and Abuse at Public and Private Schools and Treatment Centers
May 5, 2009: COPAA releases report asking Congress to stop the use of restraints, seclusion, and aversives upon children with disabilities in school
The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. (COPAA) released a report entitled, "Unsafe In The Schoolhouse: Abuse Of Children With Disabilities," detailing 143 incidents of the use of abusive interventions against children with disabilities in school. The report also includes suggested legislative remedies. The report notes that in the majority of cases, parents had not consented to the interventions and that schools did not provide comprehensive Positive Behavioral Intervention plans. Read the press release, COPAA releases report detailing 143 incidents of aversive interventions in school programs, and the report, Unsafe In The Schoolhouse: Abuse Of Children With Disabilities (PDF file)
May 1, 2009: LRS responds to workgroup's recommendations
LRS advises interagency workgroup that it is strongly opposed to any type of prone restraint. Read more: LRS opposes state agencies' recommendation to continue dangerous face-down restraints
January 27, 2009: House Education and Labor Committee Chairman asks GAO to investigate cases of abuse and neglect of children in school
U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee has asked the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to further investigate recent reports of seclusion and restraint of children in public and private schools across the country. Miller noted that a prior GAO investigation uncovered thousands of similar cases of abuse at teen residential treatment facilities across the country, leading to the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2008 (H.R. 6358). The House Education and Labor Committee will hold a hearing on the issue of abuse and neglect in schools in the coming months. Read the press release: Chairman Miller Asks GAO to Investigate Cases of Abuse and Neglect of Schoolchildren
January 23, 2009: Governor calls for statewide restraint policy
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Governor has instructed the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) to head meetings with other state agencies to develop a statewide restraint policy and that the meetings will begin the week of January 26, 2009. Read Cleveland Plain Dealer article: Parmadale death prompts Governor Ted Strickland to seek policy on restraints
January 23, 2009: DODD to coordinate with state agencies a statewide policy on the use of restraints
A memo from the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) states that the Governor has instructed DODD to coordinate with state agencies to develop a statewide policy on the use of restraints. Read the memo: DODD - Restraint Policy Memo (PDF file)
January 16, 2009: Cleveland Plain Dealer follows up on restraint death
The Cleveland Plain Dealer continued its coverage into the death of a teenage girl who suffocated while being restrained at a center for troubled youth. Read the article: Ohio Legal Rights Service urges state to ban restraint method after teen's death
January 16, 2009: LRS sends notice to ODE to prohibit restraints
LRS sent notice to the Ohio Department of Education to enact administrative rules on the use of emergency behavioral interventions and to prohibit restraints that can suffocate individuals. Read the letter: LRS letter to ODE (PDF file)
January 15, 2009: Cleveland Plain Dealer calls for Ohio to adopt one policy on the use of restraints
An editorial in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, in response to the death of a teenage girl who suffocated while being restrained at a center for troubled youth, cites Ohio's lack of communication among state agencies on policies as a contributing cause of the child's death. Read the article: Ohio's lack of wisdom, poor communication cost teen her life
January 13, 2009: LRS urges ODJFS to ban the use of prone restraints
LRS sent notification to ODJFS to prohibit the use of prone restraints (PDF file), and urged other state department directors to act immediately to prohibit prone restraints in all settings. Read more: LRS calls for a ban on the use of prone restraints
January 13, 2009: NDRN releases report on seclusion and restraint in schools
A report from the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) identifies the abusive use of restraint or seclusion nationwide by school administrators, teachers, and auxiliary personnel, which has resulted in injury, trauma and death to children with disabilities. The report includes two cases investigated by the LRS Ombudsperson section. Read NDRN's report: School is Not Supposed to Hurt: Investigative Report on Abusive Restraint and Seclusion in Schools (PDF file)
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