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Prince William Schools Restrain, Seclude Disabled Kids Frequently, Inquiry Finds

by Wrightslaw

“Federal civil rights officials have found that two Prince William County public schools for students with emotional disabilities frequently restrained, secluded and removed children from classrooms in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to behavior management that took away instructional time and did not account for individual student needs.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) said there was not evidence that students were physically harmed by restraint and seclusion at the schools, PACE East, in the Manassas area, and PACE West, in Gainesville.

But an investigation concluded that the techniques were part of an approach that denied students with disabilities a free appropriate public education, as required by law. “The frequent use of these restrictive interventions suggests these strategies are not effective at changing or minimizing the problematic behavior,” the findings also said.

Lawyers who filed the complaint planned to announce the result Thursday, saying they hoped it would send a broader message about limiting use of restraint and seclusion to emergency situations. The case comes amid a national conversation about the practices, which are often used for students with disabilities and have come under sharp focus amid reports of physical injuries and other damaging effects.

‘I think these findings are beneficial to children with emotional disabilities, and I think they are beneficial for parents of children with disabilities, and I think they are instructive to educators, if they pay attention,’ said William B. Reichhardt, the lead attorney in the case, filed jointly by two law firms and the Legal Aid Justice Centerin Virginia.”

Read the full article, Prince William schools restrain, seclude disabled kids frequently, inquiry finds, in the Washington Post, August 6, 2014.

Inappropriate Use of Restraint and Seclusion in Schools.  (Legal Aid Justice Center News, August 7, 2014).

US DOE Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Letter of Findings, July 29, 2014.

Find more information at Virginia Special Education News.

Bill Reichhardt and Angela Ciolfi, two of the attorneys who filed the complaint are faculty members at the Institute of Special Education Advocacy, ISEA 2014 currently in session at the W & M School of Law.



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Is it Time to Have Your Child Evaluated?

by Wrightslaw

Is your child is having academic, social, or behavioral problems?

Consider a Comprehensive Evaluation

Wrightslaw: All About Tests and AssessmentsA comprehensive evaluation will identify your child’s strengths, deficits, and needs.

An evaluation will help you develop:

  • a plan to help your child
  • a road map for the future

A privately obtained evaluation should answer your questions and include specific recommendations about what your child needs.

Choose an evaluator  independent evaluator in the private sector who has expertise in your child’s disability, is independent of the school district, and who is willing to work with the school staff.

The evaluator may identify professionals who can help your child.

Or, your child’s school may ask for consent to evaluate your child to determine if they are eligible for special education services and accommodations.

Who Can Conduct an Evaluation? [

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Summer Sale! 25% OFF Wrightslaw Materials!

by Wrightslaw

Don’t miss the
Wrightslaw Summer Sale!

Get 25% OFF!

  • Wrightslaw Books
  • Training CD Roms
  • E-Pub and Kindle Editions
  • Advocacy Supplies
  • Surviving Due Process DVD

July 22 through July 30, 2014.

Order Now and Save 25%

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Seats Available. Register Today! – Going South to Birmingham, Alabama!

by Wrightslaw

The Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa is the location for the 8th Annual Southeastern Rett Syndrome Alliance Conference –  held August 1-3, 2014. The Wrightslaw training takes place on Saturday, August 2nd.

This Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy Training is for parents, advocates, educators, related service providers and attorneys. The agenda will follow the format of the standard “6 hour agenda”. The presentation will also include issues faced by parents of children with RETT syndrome and include a particular focus on the acquisition of assistive technology devices and services.

Click here to Register Online.

Register Now!

See you in Alabama!

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New! at Wrightslaw: Allergies / Anaphylaxis

by Pete Wright

A child with an allergy, asthma, even diabetes, has an “episodic” condition which, as a result of the amendments to ADA, normally qualifies the public school child for the protections of 504 and the private school child / day care youngster, for the protections of ADA.

New at Wrightslaw!  We have created a new Allergies / Anaphylaxis page at

Food Allergy Research and Education

At the Food Allergy Research & Education Association (FARE) annual conference, I did a 5 hour presentation about allergies and anaphylaxis. The focus was on 504 and ADA and very little on IDEA.

Conference attendees received a CD-ROM that included almost 60 files. The CD included pdf copies of Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd. Ed., Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Ed., our video about writing Due Process and Complaint letters.

Many of the files on the CD-ROM were:

  • cases
  • complaints filed in federal court
  • US Dept of Justice complaints and settlement letters
  • manuals for use by schools regarding life-threatening allergies
  • comprehensive guidelines for schools recently issued by the Center for Disease Control in collaboration with FARE

We have uploaded the files provided to the FARE attendees to our new Allergies / Anaphylaxis page. [Read more →]

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School Ignores What My Child’s Doctor Recommends. Should I Get an Evaluation?

by Wrightslaw

My 10-year-old 4th grader will be in a new, grade-level building, in a gifted and talented classroom. He has been diagnosed severely ADHD, OCD, anxiety, and Tourettes. His doctor recommended a parapro in the classroom but the school principal said, “We don’t have the ability to provide a para.”

What is the obligation of the school to make that happen? Should I fight the school?

Should I get a private evaluation?

What would you advise…?

Sharon says: “I believe an evaluation should be done, but I would not pay for an outside evaluation. You should request an evaluation from the school. Sign their consent form immediately.

The 60 day requirement to get the testing done does not start until their consent form is signed.

When the test is complete you will sit down with the team and go over the results. Your son may test into getting help. [Read more →]

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Determining Evaluation Timelines

by Pete Wright

How long does a school have evaluate a child after a formal request is made and all consent paperwork is signed?

How many days before the school district is required to comply?

You have to be careful about asking questions of this nature. Often the answer you receive may be wrong!

Part of the answer is dependent on whether it is a new evaluation —  or a re-evaluation.

Learn how to find the answer yourself. [

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School Ends IEP: “Disability No Longer Affects Education”?

by Wrightslaw

I have an 8 year old in second grade who can now walk around after 80 different corrective surgeries. He has popliteal pterygium syndrome with his knees in a contracted position. His left leg is much shorter than the right. He is extremely tired when he walks for a long period of time. He also has a cleft plate and cleft lip so his speech can be difficult to understand.

The school removed him from an IEP because they said his physical disability no longer affects his educational performance.

Change of Placement

Removing your child from the IEP is a change of placement.

The school cannot unilaterally change placement without the entire team agreeing to it. Parents must be involved in placement decisions.

Your child’s disability category or label or severity of the disability – See more at:


Your child’s disability category or label or severity of the disability – See more at:
Your child’s disability category or label or severity of the disability – See more at:

Did you sign the IEP? You don’t have to. [Read more →]

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