Today, the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) issued School is Not Supposed to Hurt, a disturbing national report on seclusion and restraint in U.S. schools. According to the press release : "The report shows an unsettling use of seclusion and restraint tactics, which resulted in physical and emotional injuries as well as deaths, in schools affecting students from grades K-12."
According to Curt Decker, executive director of NDRN: "This report documents dozens of seclusion and prone restraint cases that have resulted in injuries and even death. We feel that these numbers represent just the tip of the iceberg as there is no national reporting structure or official tracking of such incidents."
The report provides specific examples, state by state, of the improper use of seclusion and restraint in schools as identified by investigations conducted by the Protection and Advocacy systems within those states. NDRN is a national network whose members are Protection and Advocacy systems (P&A) and Client Assistance Programs (CAP) within each state and territory.
The report calls on the incoming Obama administration and the 111th Congress to act to ban the use of prone restraints. Additionally, the report provides a specific list of recommendations for state legislatures, boards of education, and local school districts. Included in those recommendations:
For the incoming Obama Administration:
- Direct the Secretaries of Education and Health and Human Services to convene a national summit to devise plans to implement the bans on prone restraint and to encourage the use of evidence based positive behavioral supports and other best practices;
Request increased federal funding for P&A programs to investigate allegations of abuse or neglect in schools.
For State Legislatures and Boards of Education:
Require teacher, school administrator, counselor, and para-professional certification standards to require extensive education and training in the use of positive behavioral supports, crisis reduction and management, de-escalation techniques, and other best practices;
Require extensive training in the use of positive behavioral supports, crisis reduction and management, de-escalation techniques, and other best practices for other individuals, including School Resource Officers with contact with children in a school setting.
For Local School Districts:
Require the use of evidence based positive behavioral supports and other best practices;
Implement reporting of the use of restraint or seclusion to parent/guardians, state boards of education, the local Protection & Advocacy System, and the U. S. Department of Education;
Establish extensive training programs in the use of positive behavioral supports, crisis reduction and management, de-escalation techniques, and other best practices for all individuals, including School Resource Officers, with contact with children in a school setting.
In recent years my office, as Colorado's Protection and Advocacy System, has investigated numerous instances of the improper use of seclusion or restraint in Colorado schools. Some of those investigations and our findings are included in this report. I have seen first hand that this is a serious issue in our schools. I applaud the efforts of NDRN and my fellow P&A's to bring attention to this issue and I endorse the recommendations in this report. I urge you to take the time to read the full report.