ISO Stories & Reports about Restraints, Seclusion & Aversives

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The Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress’ investigative arm, is seeking information about the use of restraints, seclusion, and aversives in public school day programs.

The GAO is developing a report for hearings that will be held by House Education Committee Chairman George Miller on this issue.

The GAO is interested in all kinds of cases and situations in which children with disabilities were subjected to abusive interventions at school. These can be civil cases, criminal matters, due process hearings, or situations in which no one filed a hearing request or went to court at all.

The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) wants to get an accurate picture of the extent to which restraints, seclusion, and aversives are used in public schools. COPAA developed a computerized form that people can use to provide  information. After COPAA collects the information, they forward it to the GAO.

To access the reporting form, click here:

If You Are an Attorney or Advocate . . .

If you are an attorney or advocate who has worked with many families, you may wish to select one child and fill out the form for him/her. That may be easier and will help  learn more about that child’s situation as an illustration. Alternatively, you can adapt the form by skipping most of the multiple choice questions and write about your clients in the narrative section. If you do the latter, be sure to state the number of clients you are writing about (e.g. I have represented 5 clients….).

Please share this information with others. Forward it to lists, groups, individuals, etc.

If you have questions, please email

  1. I’m a grandmother whose 8 year old granddaughter has an IEP for ADD, etc. She runs out of the room, or burrows under desks when she doesn’t want to do her work. My daughter told me they took my granddaughter off site to another facility in the district and put her into some kind of restraints. Is that right? Legal? Appropriate? My daughter just accepted it. What is the liability for transporting her? How was she “restrained”? I was horrified.

  2. I participated in this survey and have read over the informaton collected so far.

    While I understand the need to revise the IDEA, I do not understand why there is not an effort to enforce the current laws and procedural safeguards.

    The proposed report suggests that Schools not retaliate against parents who exercise their rights to advocate for their child. It suggests that competent staff be hired to prevent injury to the child.

    Before another single law is considered, there needs to be a “change” that actually enforces the laws that are on the books today. Laws should be enforced by law enforcement and not by educators who do not have authority to hold the school accountable for harming children.

  3. My son attends a non-public therapeutic school, but the school district wants to put him in a harness when coming home from school because he has attempted (and succeeded, once) in jumping out of a moving cab when agitated. We refuse, and they are arguing that they don’t have to get him to and from school if he’s not in a restraint. He’s 5 foot 10, 180 lbs, 14 years old – they’ll never keep him in a restraint, but they don’t get it.

  4. Chini: If parents know their child was verbally and physically abused at school, they need to document this in a letter. The letter should describe what happened and ask what steps the school is taking to ensure that this never happens again.

    Since the parent discussed this with the principal, it’s quite possible that the director of special ed and school superintendent do not know what happened. They need to know. Have the parent address the letter to the principal, director of special ed, and the superintendent so they know there is a problem.

  5. I am assisting a parent whose child was verbally and physically abused in a middle school classroom by the teacher. The child has an IEP for a learning disorder. The parent had a conference with the principal whose only remedy was an apology on behalf of the teacher. What are the child’s legal rights and protection when this type of negative behavior is used ? What steps should the parent take to protect the childs ‘ emotional, mental and physical health? How may the child continue with his studies under these circumstances?

  6. I am encouraged to see this sort of survey being taken.

    When my son was denied lunch priviledges by his newly hired shadow, the shadow documented using football style blocking techniques. When we reported this to DO Admins, they addressed this by “attempting” to file assault charges on my son but quickly dropped when they realized that my son was the only one with injuries and was the one who left in an ambulance. No effort was made to investigate and ensure that the shadow who remained employed at the school was not a threat to other students. No comments were offered on why my son could not eat lunch that day.

    There is some lumpy carpet in my son’s former school’s district office and this may effort may smooth them out.

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