$450,000 Settlement in Teacher Restraint and Seclusion Case

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February 6, 2020

In This Issue ...

ISSN: 1538-320

Spring 2020 Programs

April 2: Nashua, NH

April 19: Denver, CO

April 23: Park City, UT

2020 Schedule

Happy Friday!

As we settled into winter, we realized that The Special Ed Advocate will celebrate 22 years of service in April. We thought about updating the newsletter format but have too many books in the pipeline.

Pete continues work on the ultra comprehensive Third edition of Wrightslaw: Special Education Law. In addition to the IDEA, the new edition includes Section 504 and the ADA. Pam is working on a new edition of From Emotions to Advocacy. We'll provide you with occasional progress reports on these and other projects.

Our mission remains the same: to provide parents, educators, advocates, and attorneys with timely, accurate, reliable information about special education law and advocacy.

We know our readers have less time and more on your plates so we have two goals:

  * to provide more legal news and information
  * to provide news efficiently and keep our length slim and trim

We ask you to share your ideas and suggestions when we try new things. After all, we’re in this together.

In today's issue, you'll learn about a $450,000 settlement in a restraint and seclusion case (school district is a repeat offender), legal limits on seclusion and restraint, and tips about writing a "No restraints" letter. We have new settlements between the DOJ and child care providers that "dis-enrolled" children as they were diagnosed with Type I diabetes. We encourage you to learn effective ways to resolve parent-school disputes before they - or you - blow up.

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$450,000 Settlement in Teacher Restraints and Seclusion Case

In January 2020, news broke about a $450,000 Settlement in a Teacher Abuse Case between Wake County Public Schools (WCPSS) and the parents of a child with autism who was restrained and locked in a "seclusion room" by his special ed teacher.

School staff at Southeast Raleigh High School observed M.C., a special education teacher, behaving aggressively to one of his students. The staff reported M.C.'s behavior to the principal but M.C. continued to teach. The principal disciplined the staff who reported M.C.'s behavior.

M.C. converted a storage room into a "calm down" room for his students, then began to restrain, isolate, and use aversive measures with S.L. in the storage room.

The staff created a record of M.C.'s actions with videos and photographs which they shared with S.L.'s parents.

In $450,000 Settlement in Teacher Abuse Case, you will see how school administrators covered up abuse incidents, violated state legal requirements about restraints, seclusion, and isolation, and the requirements about notifying parents.

You'll also learn about mandatory reporters - who they are, what they are required to do — and if YOU are one.

While working on this story, we read other settlements and cases about restraint and seclusion and discovered an article about the same school district in a similar case about restraints and seclusion . . . on the Wrightslaw Way blog!

See Handcuffs? Bruises? Lawsuit Against Wake County Schools.

If you are dealing with a restraint and/or seclusion issue, go to our motherload of information and resources at the Restraints, Seclusion and Abuse page.

If your child is being restrained at school - or you fear this will happen - read Parent Request: No Restraints letter. Download the sample "no restraints" letter and tailor it to your child's circumstances. Send your letter to the school principal and send a copy the special ed director.

DOJ Settles with Child Care Providers that “Dis-enrolled” Children with Diabetes

On February 3, 2020,  the Department of Justice (DOJ) entered into settlement agreements with two child care providers for discriminating against young children as they were being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Cold folks.

These child care centers failed to modify their programs to accommodate the needs of these children and “dis-enrolled” the children soon after they were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, a violation of the ADA. Learn more.


Resolving Parent-School Disputes

If you've attended a Wrightslaw training program, you probably remember our statement that "Conflict is normal and predictable."

About 95% of the audience expressed a strong belief that conflict between parents and school staff was unhealthy -- that members of these groups should be able to work together peacefully, keeping the child's interests paramount. As we asked questions about conflict in other settings, you realized why we said "Conflict is normal and predictable.

In Chapter 6 of Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition, you learn more about factors that fuel conflict and about strategies you can use to resolve parent-school conflict and disputes.

Legal Limits on Restraint and Seclusion

The Office for Civil Rights published a useful bundle of information about the Legal Limits on Restraint and Seclusion.

These documents clarify limits on the use of restraint and seclusion by public schools. The bundle includes a Dear Colleague Letter, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and a two page Fact Sheet.

Sample FAQs:

  * Does Section 504 prohibit the use of restraint or seclusion in all situations?

  * When does Section 504 require a school to treat a student with a disability differently from students without disabilities?

  * How could a school’s use of restraint or seclusion be different treatment that violates Section 504?

  * Could a school’s use of restraint or seclusion have a discriminatory effect on students with disabilities in violation of Section 504?

  * Can the use of restraint or seclusion deny a student’s receipt of Section 504 FAPE Services?

Fact Sheet: Restraint and Seclusion of Students with Disabilities (two pages)


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