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

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“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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