Campaign to Help End Restraint and Seclusion in Schools

Donations to this fund will help stop the use of restraint and seclusion in schools.

Restraint and Seclusion – a hidden practice in many schools

Sam, a well-behaved 11 year old with autism, did not wish to participate in the classroom yoga activity. As punishment, he was told to sit at his desk with his head down – for an hour! A classroom aide, shocked by what happened next, surreptitiously recorded her colleague repeatedly restraining Sam.

The video recording shows Sam, distracted by the yoga activity, was having a hard time remaining still with his head down. To compel his compliance, a classroom aide repeatedly restrained Sam, forcing him to remain seated sit at his desk with his head down.

On the video, Sam is seen crying and becoming increasingly distressed as he lifts his head and shifts in his chair, and attempts to mimic the yoga positions from his desk. The aide responds by pushing Sam’s head back down, repeatedly pinning his arms to the desk, leaning onto Sam’s head and shoulders to keep his head on his folded arms, and pulling him off the floor and forcing him back into a sitting position. Sam can be heard whimpering, sobbing, coughing, and muttering to himself throughout the recording. Sam’s behavior never posed a risk of harm to himself or others – he just wanted to join in.

Sam’s family didn’t know what had happened or why Sam was suddenly scared to go to school until they received an anonymous copy of the video in their mailbox from the aide who shot the video from her cellphone.

Donate to DRC and end the use of restraint and seclusion in schools – practices that traumatize and injure children.

Additional Resources

  • Disability Rights California (June 2015).  Restraint and Seclusion in Schools: Recommendations for California Download PDF .
  • Disability Rights California (June 2007). Restraint & Seclusion in California Schools: A Failing Grade Download PDF .
  • Politico Magazine (November, 29, 2017) DRC’s Director of Investigations discusses poor data on restraint and seclusion in schools.  Read more.
  • Education Week (May 16, 2017). 70,000 Students With Disabilities Secluded, Restrained in School. Read more.
  • U.S. Department of Education (December 28, 2016) Fact Sheet: Restraint and Seclusion of Students with Disabilities. Download PDF .
  • U.S. Department of Education (May 2012). Restraint and Seclusion: Resource Document.  Download PDF .
  • United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), (May, 2009).  Seclusions and Restraint: Selected Cases of Death and Abuse at Public and Private Schools and Treatment Centers. Download PDF .
  • Jessica Butler, (December 31, 2016). How Safe is The Schoolhouse? An Analysis of State Seclusion and Restraint Laws and Policies.  Download PDF .
  • National Disability Rights Network (NDRN). (March 2012) School is Not Supposed to Hurt: the U.S. Department of Education Must Do More to Protect School Children from Restraint and Seclusion.  Download PDF .
  • National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) (January 2010). School is Not Supposed to Hurt: Update on Progress in 2009 to Prevent and Reduce Restraint and Seclusion in Schools.  Download PDF .
  • In-depth: Advocates want ban on students being restrained amid alleged abuse at Antioch special needs school Tobinworld video.