Protect Children’s Safety and Dignity
Disability Rights California report urges California to further reform school restraint and seclusion laws
(Sacramento, CA – August 13, 2019) The use of restraint and seclusion in schools can result in death and serious injury for children with disabilities. In 2018, California passed AB 2657, a DRC sponsored bill that provides basic protections against unnecessary and inappropriate behavioral restraints and seclusions. While this was an important first step, DRC strongly urges California to adopt additional reforms which will improve the safety and welfare of California students.
In a report released today, “Protect Children’s Safety and Dignity: Recommendations on Restraint and Seclusion in Schools,” Disability Rights California (DRC), consistent with federal recommendations, actions taken by other states and best practices urges further reforms in school restraint and seclusion laws.
DRC looked at 56 cases of restraint over the last four years. Some of the findings include:
- Prone restraint places children with disabilities at serious risk of death or injury.
- Several school districts were using restraints on students over 100-200 times in a given school year instead of positive behavioral strategies.
- School districts failed to timely notify parents and complete documentation when using restraint or seclusion.
“Students with disabilities such as autism and mental health disabilities are particularly vulnerable to trauma and injury due to restraint and seclusion. California schools should address behavior needs using positive behavioral strategies that are proven to be effective and safe, instead of resorting to restraint and seclusion in response to problem behavior,” said Suge Lee, managing attorney, Disability Rights California.
Recommendations in the report include:
- Prohibit the use of prone restraint.
- Set reasonable and safe time limits on the use of restraint and seclusion.
- Require parental notice and written documentation for all incidents of restraint and seclusion.
- Require teachers and other school staff be trained in positive behavioral strategies, de-escalation techniques, and crisis prevention.
- Require school districts and state officials to strengthen restraint and seclusion reporting requirements and monitor data for overuse.
U.S. Department of Education recommends that prone restraint be banned and mechanical restraints never be used. Twenty states ensure this by banning the use of mechanical restraints in schools, and an additional three states ban its use on children with disabilities. Prone restraint is one of the most dangerous forms of restraint used in schools, with twenty-one states banning its use, and an additional two states prohibiting restraining students face down if they have disabilities. California should follow these examples and ban the use of mechanical and prone restraints. California has a responsibility to its children, to ensure they are protected from abuse, treated with dignity, and attend safe schools. We must do more to protect them and bring California in line with federal recommendations and best practices as outlined in this report.
Disability Rights California is the agency designated under federal law to protect and advocate the rights of Californians with disabilities. The mission of Disability Rights California is to advance the rights, dignity, equal opportunities, and choices for all people with disabilities. For more information, visit www.disabilityrightsca.org and for the full report, visit https://www.disabilityrightsca.org/post/protect-childrens-safety-and-dignityrecommendations- on-restraint-and-seclusion-in-schools.