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ERIC Number: ED544755
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Feb-12
Pages: 54
Abstractor: ERIC
Dangerous Use of Seclusion and Restraints in Schools Remains Widespread and Difficult to Remedy: A Review of Ten Cases. United States Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. Majority Committee Staff Report
US Senate (NJ1)
There is no evidence that physically restraining or putting children in unsupervised seclusion in the K-12 school system provides any educational or therapeutic benefit to a child. In fact, use of either seclusion or restraints in non-emergency situations poses significant physical and psychological danger to students. Yet the first round of data collected by the United States Department of Education in 2009-2010 demonstrated that these same practices that are prohibited in other settings were used in U.S. schools at least 66,000 times in a single school year. Because fifteen percent of school districts failed to report data, however, this figure likely underestimates use of seclusion and restraints. In an effort to better understand the frequency and severity of the use of seclusion and restraints, and to better understand obstacles facing families with children subjected to these practices, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Majority staff undertook an investigation. The investigation sought to better understand the types of seclusion and restraints practices occurring in U.S. schools, and the obstacles faced by families seeking to stop the use of these practices or seeking restitution for harm caused by these practices. The cases outlined in this report tell a story of lost opportunity and negative effects that extend far into the future. For the students profiled here, their educational experiences were marred by the use of practices with no educational benefits, often repeatedly for long periods of time over many instructional days that reduced their learning opportunities. The investigation documented the inability of some families to effectively address the use of seclusion and restraints and to positively change school practices. By passing legislation to permit the use of restraints only in emergency situations and to eliminate the use of seclusion, Congress and states can help schools to implement interventions that promote positive learning environments, promote better academic outcomes, and prevent behaviors that put children and personnel in danger. Lessons learned from these cases should speed the adoption of positive approaches to working with families and the implementation of positive preventative behavior practices in schools. Recommendations include: (1) Passing legislation that would limit the use of restraints to emergency situations only, when there is an imminent threat of serious harm to students themselves or to others, and would discontinue all use of unsupervised and unmonitored seclusion; (2) Annual collecting of data that documents the frequency, duration and intensity of the use of seclusion and restraints in schools; (3) Training programs to ensure all teachers, administrators and other school personnel know how to implement preventative programming and positive interventions; (4) Requiring notification of a child's parents within 24 hours when seclusion or restraints are used against a child; (5) Eliminating the use of seclusion and restraints, which have been shown to have no educational benefit, as an educational or therapeutic component of a student's individualized education plan (IEP); and (6) Amending the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to allow families to file civil actions to stop the practice of seclusion and/or restraints in court before exhausting remedies available under IDEA. Appended are: (1) Case Studies; and (2) Comments from Abington Heights School District in Pennsylvania.
US Senate. Available from: US Government Printing Office. 732 North Capitol Street, Washington, DC 20401. Tel: 866-512-1800; Fax: 202-512-2104; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: US Senate. Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Americans with Disabilities Act 1990; Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; Rehabilitation Act 1973 (Section 504)