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Archive for the ‘restraints and seclusion’ Category

Commentary: Georgia must end seclusion, restraints

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Writing in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ruby Moore and Eric Jacobson call on Georgia to end seclusion and restraint in the state’s schools and turn instead to the use of positive behavioral supports (PBS).

Moore and Jacobson urge the state’s board of education to strengthen a proposed new rule by adding requirements for oversight, data collection and analysis, which they say are necessary to prevent the tragic deaths of more Georgia schoolchildren.

An excerpt:

Georgia can be at the forefront of states that are ending the practices of seclusion and restraints. We hope others will attend tomorrow’s board of education meeting to urge the adoption of a stronger rule that includes accountability.

Then we can create schools that are safe for children and teachers, provide effect oversight and support and, ultimately, protect our children. We should no longer send our children to school fearing that we may never see them return.

Congressional investigators last year found widespread evidence of the use of restraints and seclusion of students by school staff around the country, most of it involving students with disabilities. Some of the cases ended in death.

Ruby Moore is executive director of Georgia Advocacy Office. Eric Jacobson is executive director of the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities.

Earlier posts here.

District pays $5 million in alleged abuse of students with autism

Friday, June 4th, 2010

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

A Pennsylvania school district has agreed to pay a $5 million settlement in response to a federal civil rights suit filed by parents who said their children with autism had been tied to chairs with bungee cords and duct tape. Defendants in the lawsuit, which included the Scranton-area school district as well as the teacher and other officials, did not admit wrongdoing.

Parents of seven children in the Abington Heights School District alleged that teacher Susan Comerford Wzorek slapped children, pulled them by the hair, stepped on their feet and, in one case, pulled a child across the room by the cast on his broken arm. After the allegations were lodged in 2006, Wzorek entered a no-contest plea to a criminal charge of recklessly endangering the welfare of children and served a 30-day jail term for a probation violation. She is now retired.

Plaintiffs attorneys said the settlement appeared to be the largest ever in Pennsylvania involving abuse of children in a special education classroom.

See also: Autistic children abused in Pa. classroom to get $5 million to settle federal lawsuit — AP/Los Angeles Times

Wzorek’s criminal attorney has said she never intentionally harmed any student and alleged that she was not provided with adequate training, guidance or support.

Feds: Many states don’t regulate seclusion, restraint in schools

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

From AP/Los Angeles Times:

A report from the U.S. Department of Education this weeks shows that 19 states do not in any way regulate their schools’ use of seclusion and restraints on misbehaving students. And even though 31 states do have some type of policy, the report found, many are weak and do not clearly spell out proper disciplinary procedures for teachers to follow.

Education Seretary Arne Duncan called for the assessment after congressional investigators disclosed evidence of widespread restraint and seclusion of students by school staff around the country, most of it involving students with disabilities. At least 20 deaths and many injuries were attributed to the practices.

For the first time, federal lawmakers are considering legislation that would prohibit restraint and seclusion in most circumstances and require training for educators on effective behavior management. The bill passed the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee earlier this month.

“Schools are the Wild West – anything goes,” said Leslie Lipson with the Georgia Advocacy Office, which is pushing for legislation that would ban both restraint and seclusion in Georgia. “We have seen instances of restraint and seclusion where teachers and other officials have used Velcro, duct tape, hog tying – kids locked in storage closets. All sorts of perversions.”

Related posts here.

States do little to stop restraint of students with disabilities

Monday, December 14th, 2009

From USA Today:

In hearings seven months ago, congressional investigators disclosed evidence of widespread restraint and seclusion of students by school staff around the country, most of it involving students with disabilities. Some of the cases ended in death. Since the hearings, advocates say, only a handful of states have moved to restrict or regulate the practice.

“There has been a lot of attention, a lot of advocacy, a lot of family members involved, but it’s slow going,” says Jane Hudson, an attorney for the National Disability Rights Network, based in Washington, D.C.

See related interview with Rep. George Miller (D-California), who is co-sponsoring legislation that would prohibit or limit restraint and seclusion of students except in rare cases, when there is “imminent danger of injury.” An excerpt:

This abuse is a nightmare … The types of abuse these kids are suffering are so disturbing, you’d think these were stories about torture tactics used at prison camps. Instead they’re happening to some of our youngest children, in our schools.

Bill aims to protect students from abuse in schools

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

2009.12.09_restraintsFrom the Hartford Courant, Contra Costa [CA] Times, NPR, Muskegon [MI] Chronicle, press release from the House Education and Labor Committee:

A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers has introduced legislation aimed at protecting students in the nation’s schools from harmful uses of restraint and seclusion.

The legislation follows congressional hearings and a report by the Government Accountability Office last spring that documented hundreds of cases of schoolchildren being subjected to inappropriate uses of restraint and seclusion in schools, often by untrained school staff. A disproportionate number of those cases involved students with disabilities; some students died.

Lack of oversight has led to a “serious, systemwide failure” that in some cases has subjected students to “nothing short of torture,” said Rep. George Miller (D-CA), who co-sponsored the House bill with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) A comparable measure was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT).

The bill would establish minimum safety standards in schools, prohibiting  physical restraint or locked seclusion except in cases where there is imminent danger of injury, and where the restriction is imposed by a trained staff member.

It would also: prohibit mechanical restraints, including strapping children to chairs or duct-taping parts of their bodies; prohibit any restraint that restricts breathing, and require schools to notify parents immediately after incidents when restraint or seclusion was used.

In addition, the bill would require states to collect detailed data on restraint and seclusion, make it publicly available, and report it to the federal government.


Mom: Seclusion room felt like jail cell

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Seclusion Room, Daily Herald photo from courtesyFrom WTVF Nashville, and the [Columbia, TN] Daily Herald:

A judge has issued an emergency injunction against educators at a Tennessee elementary school following allegations that a student with developmental disabilities was stripped down to his underwear and locked in a seclusion room.

Michelle Parks, mother of the 9-year-old boy, said her son’s civil rights had been violated. “I don’t think our elected representatives envisioned a prison cell inside an elementary school for special needs children,” said Kevin Latta, her attorney.

Parks said she was called to Joseph Brown Elementary School in Columbia to pick up her son for acting out in class. She found him wearing only his underwear and standing in a small cinderblock seclusion room with a concrete floor, no chairs and a door with no handle.

The school suspension notice says the boy, who is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder, was verbally abusive and kicked a teacher. Parks said she was told her son’s clothes were taken away for his own protection.

(Photo from Daily Herald)

Education secretary asks states to develop, revise restraint plans

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

From the Education Week’s On Special Education Blog:

Education Secretary Arne Duncan has asked state education chiefs to review their policies on restraints and seclusion of students, and develop or revise policies as necessary to assure children are safe.

Duncan’s letter follows congressional testimony and a report by the Government Accountability Office that documented hundreds of allegations of school-related death and abuse since 1990. The majority of the allegations involved students with disabilities. The 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.

Duncan said he was “deeply troubled” by the testimony. He offered Illinois’ policy as a model, saying it includes a “strong focus upon Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) as well as state regulations that limit the use of seclusion and restraint under most circumstances.”

The July 31 letter asked states to respond by August 15.

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More than 50 million people in the United States have disabilities, a number that is growing rapidly as the population ages. Experts say disability will soon affect the lives of most Americans. This website attempts to aggregate news and commentary about disability, and to document the efforts of people who are seeking new ways to address familiar challenges.

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