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 >>)

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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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