restraint & seclusion

10 RESTRAINT & SECLUSION TIPS FOR PARENTS

10) IMMEDIATELY REPORT

Once you have determined that restraint, seclusion or related abuse has occurred:
::  Strongly consider reporting the incident to your local police. Ask yourself: if a similar incident occurred to a student without a disability, is it likely that the police would become involved? If so, they should become involved to protect your child as well. In many states you may file a police report even if the police think they should not get involved.
:: Strongly consider reporting the incident to your local office of your state’s child protection system (it will have a name such as “Department of Youth and Family Services,” “Child Protective Services,” or “Child and Family Services”). Ask yourself: if a similar incident occurred to a student without a disability, or was perpetrated by a family member rather than by school staff, is it likely that the child protection agency would become involved? If so, they should become involved to protect your child as well. Some states have laws that prohibit corporal punishment in schools and other child-serving institutions, and failure to abide by this law should be investigated by the child protection agency.
:: Find parent support in your local area, contact Families Against Restraint and Seclusion (FARS). If questions remain, a parent-run hotline is available through the grassroots volunteer organization Our Children Left Behind: 877-622-5176.
:: Contact your state Protection and Advocacy system (P&A), which is a federally funded and mandated part of the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), and ask for assistance. A listing for your state office can be found at: http://www.ndrn.org/en/when-to-contact-your-state-paa-cap.html
:: Consider whether you need an attorney of your own, in addition to any legal support that the state P&A system may be able to provide. A good resource for locating attorneys (and trained education advocates) in your state is the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) website, which has listings by state. If you need pro bono (free) legal assistance, make this clear to whomever you contact. Ask about free public interest law projects and about any law firms that might be willing to work with you pro bono or for reduced or deferred fees.
:: Contact your local and state disabilities advocacy organizations. Share your story, ask what the organization is doing to prevent restraint and seclusion in the schools, and ask to be put in touch with other parents who have experience with this issue in your area or your state. To find local resources, visit yellowpagesforkids.com.
:: Consider contacting news media. This is not always a viable strategy, because you cannot control the way the story is reported; the school district will tell “the other side” and may obtain favorable coverage. Seek help from your local disabilities advocacy organizations and from other parents, and proceed if you feel supported and reasonably confident in your ability to generate accurate and useful media coverage.
Reporting to Federal Agencies - The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education provides the primary administrative enforcement for Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), two civil rights statutes that address discrimination, equal access, and reasonable accommodations, as these laws apply to schools.
Section 504 prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities on the basis of their disability. To demonstrate violation of Section 504, parents would need to show that aversive techniques, restraint, or seclusion were used on students with disabilities who engaged in certain behaviors, but were not used on students without disabilities when they engaged in similar behaviors.
The ADA addresses the need for accommodations and access in public places and might be involved, for example; if a student is restrained or secluded “for his or her own safety” when environmental modifications would have made this unnecessary. Complaints about the use of restrictive and unsafe practices, and lack of the accommodations that would make these practices unnecessary, can be lodged with OCR for investigation. If necessary, all OCR and SEA hearing reports may also be appealed to federal court.
Complaints under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) can be made to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). CRIPA gives the DOJ authority to bring legal action against state and local governments for permitting dangerous conditions and unsafe practices that violate the civil rights of persons placed in publicly operated facilities.
Visit http://tash.org/advocacy-issues/restraint-and-seclusion-aprais/for-parents/ for additional resources.
Much of the above content was developed by The Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions & Seclusion (APRAIS), of which NAA is a member. For more in-depth information, visit Tash.org & download its free Parent Toolkit: Shouldn’t School Be Safe?
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