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Snow Delays Education Department Release Of Restraint, Seclusion Policies

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A listing of state policies on restraint and seclusion in schools expected Friday from the Department of Education is delayed after snow shut down federal offices in Washington for nearly a week.

The commitment to publicly post a roundup of state laws, regulations, policies and guidelines on restraint and seclusion in schools hearkens back to an appearance before Congress by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in May.

After a Government Accountability Office report found hundreds of cases of abusive and even deadly uses of the disciplinary practices in the nation’s schools, Duncan told Congress, “I want to make sure that at the start of the next school year that every state has a real clear plan as to how to do this in a way that makes sense and that doesn’t jeopardize, doesn’t endanger children.” (Read all of Disability Scoop’s coverage of restraint and seclusion >>)

But in January, halfway through the school year, the Department of Education had yet to release any information on state restraint and seclusion policies. Under pressure from Disability Scoop, spokeswoman Sandra Abrevaya said the department intended to release the information on its Web site by Feb. 12.

Now, Abrevaya says snow in the nation’s capital is holding up the process.

“It’s delayed because of being out for a week,” Abrevaya says. “I would say since we were out about a week that that’s roughly the amount of time this will be pushed back, but I don’t have a firm date.”

Currently, advocacy groups say 39 percent of states have no laws or policies guiding use of restraint and seclusion in schools. Most of the harmful uses of restraint and seclusion uncovered in the government report last year involved students with disabilities.

Meanwhile Congress is taking up the issue. Legislation, which cleared a House committee in early February, would limit restraint and seclusion practices in schools. The bill is expected to be heard by the full House soon. Similar legislation is also proposed in the Senate.

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Comments (3 Responses)

  1. deealpert says:

    Keep up the pressure on USDOE to release all states’ restraints and seclusion materials. While I appreciate that DC was snowed under, the USDOE web site does show they managed to post some press releases this week, so obviously posting the restraints and seclusion materials was not their highest priority.

    It should be!

    I hope this doesn’t wind up as a case of “the dog ate my homework.” There are soooo many holidays coming up in February (Valentine’s Day/Chinese New Year; President’s Day), not to mention March (St. Patrick’s Day), and February is a short month anyway. Let’s keep fingers crossed that the snowstorm wasn’t just USDOE’s excuse du jour for not making these available for public scrutiny. Often, USDOE has failed to post, or posted in an extremely laggardly fashion, materials which might embarrass state ed. depts. And the restrains and seclusion materials are definitely in this group.

    Great work so far. Let us all know what we can do to help.

    Dee Alpert, Publisher
    SpecialEducationMuckraker.com

  2. Urania32 says:

    Another delay does not help a 6 year old being handcuffed in Florida or the next child who will be abused tomorrow. We have to fight to change the system in Florida and the entire United States. Some mistakes school staff will do over and over again because they know they can get away with it. To err is human, but to really foul up and destroy any chance your child will have a free appropriate public education is to face school staff who suffer from three monkey syndrome. When some school staff open their mouth what comes out runs the gamut of blatantly known ignorant of manifestations of children’s disabilities. Instead of doing testing and evaluations to provide appropriate special education services school staff are allowed to implement interventions in the classroom they think up that hurt, humiliate and traumatize the child. What ever comes out of Washington DC will not stop the abuse for years if parents don’t take schools to due process and fight to protect their children. Linda D. Montalbano

  3. Floridamom says:

    I don’t believe Arne Duncan is going to do one thing to help put a stop to restraint and seclusion used on children with disabilities unless he is forced to do so. This is the second time he has delayed in sending out a policy to all the DOE’s in the United States. I guess the abuse or death of children with disabilities in the public school system doesn’t seem to be that important enough to Mr. Duncan to fix this out of control problem.

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