The federal education department’s Office of Civil Rights has determined that two Virginia schools for students with emotional or behavioral problems have been inappropriately using restraints and isolation as routine “one-size fits all” responses to disruptive behaviors, reports ProPublica. At one of the schools, nearly 40% of the students were subjected to restraints or seclusion in 2012 alone. The complaint that started the investigation involved a teenager struggling with severe depression and anxiety, the teen’s lawyer told ProPublica. It’s part of a nationwide trend in schools that ProPublica says federal legislators are resisting cracking down on.
ProPublica previously reported that students nationwide — often those facing mental health challenges — were restrained or secluded more than 267,000 times in the 2012 school year. “Our analysis of federal data revealed that despite a near-consensus that the risky practices should be used rarely, some schools rely on them regularly — even daily — to control children… Hundreds of students have been injured — some seriously — as a result.”
ProPublica noted that, “Despite the frequent use of restraints and seclusion, the two schools [in Virginia] and the district had reported zero instances of either practice to federal data collectors.”
Federal Investigators Crack Down on Two Virginia Schools’ Use of Restraints (ProPublica, August 11, 2014)
Violent and Legal: The Shocking Ways School Kids are Being Pinned Down, Isolated Against Their Will (ProPublica, June 19, 2014)