By Bill Korach www.thereportcard.org
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s own data, One out of every 100 special education students was restrained by school personnel or secluded in school from his or her peers in the 2013-14 school year, presumably to quell behavior that teachers considered disruptive or dangerous.
That means nearly 70,000 special education students were restrained or secluded in that school year, the most recent for which data are available. For most students, this happened more than once: States reported more than 200,000 such incidents, so on average, a special education student was restrained or secluded about three times.
The numbers are also, almost surely, dramatically understated.
By the Numbers: Restraint & Seclusion
The Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection offers the only information available on the use of restraint and seclusion nationwide. The data that is captured show that students with disabilities and boys are most often subject to restraint and seclusion. State policy does not appear to fully determine variations in reported use of such practices.
- One out of 5 districtshave students that were restrained or secluded during the 2013-14 school year.
- Nearly 70,000 studentscovered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act were restrained or secluded in 2013-14.
- Those students account for over 200,000 incidentsof restraint or seclusion.
- One in every 100 studentswith disabilities is restrained or secluded.
- Four out of 5 studentswith disabilities who are restrained or secluded are males.
Source: Education Week Research Center analysis of Civil Rights Data Collection, 2017. Some student counts were rounded to protect individuals from being identified.
Many large districts, including New York City and Chicago, were among the nearly 80 percent of districts that reported no special education students being restrained or secluded.
Special needs is a very broad category that spans ADHD, that some feel is not really a pathology, to severe autism. Although each special needs student is supposed to have an Individualized Education Program (IEP), public schools are not equipped to handle many kinds of childhood mental conditions. They are biting off more than they can chew, and the kids suffer. In 2014 Brennan Long was left with two shattered thigh bones after being restrained by a staff member in his Louisville school.
Public school can serve a very narrow range of special needs students, but, for the most part they are not well equipped and staffed. That’s why 70,000 kids were manacled or locked up in isolation.