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School Is Not Supposed to Hurt: The U.S. Department of Education Must Do More to Protect School Children from Restraint and Seclusion

March 12, 2012 Comments off

School Is Not Supposed to Hurt: The U.S. Department of Education Must Do More to Protect School Children from  Restraint and Seclusion (PDF)
Source: National Disability Rights Network

Many schools are regularly using restraint and seclusion to control student behavior. Students are suffering, especially very young students. Congress has failed to act. Some states enacted laws and regulations to protect school children, but the progress is slow and the laws are often inconsistent and incomplete.

ED is in the unique position to 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, similar to the guidance that the Office of Civil Rights has already issued on bullying and harassment. The guidance at a minimum must also limit the use of physical restraint or seclusion to circumstances when necessary to protect a child or others from imminent physical danger and not weaken existing protections in the states.

ED is also in the unique position to pull together 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. ED should collaborate with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in this effort because SAMHSA has successfully supported efforts over the last decade to reduce the use of restraint and seclusion in mental health facilities. ED should fund demonstration projects to test what works.

ED can prevent future injuries and deaths by investigating restraint and seclusion (even where there is no individual complaint) and requiring school districts to take appropriate corrective action.

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