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Rights Group Calls On Congress, President To Ban Restraints And Seclusion Of Students
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 13, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC--Leaders of the National Disability Rights Network held a briefing on Capitol Hill Tuesday calling on the new Congress and the incoming President to pass a nation-wide ban on the use of prone restraints and seclusion on students.

NDRN, a coalition of 57 federally-mandated protection and advocacy systems across the county, released a 60-page report showing that the laws and policies governing the use of dangerous facedown restraints and isolation of children and teenagers vary widely from state to state and agency to agency, or do not exist at all.

The report, entitled "School Is Not Supposed To Hurt", featured many cases of children and teenagers that have been physically and emotionally injured or died as a result of restraints and seclusions at school or other programs.

Many of those cases have been followed by Inclusion Daily Express readers over the last 10 years, most notably:

Angellika Arndt, 7, who had diagnoses of reactive attachment disorder, mood disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorderdied, and who died after being restrained fadedown for 30 minutes at a Rice Lake, Wisconsin day treatment program.

Michael Renner Lewis III, 15, who had autism, and who died after being restrained facedown on his first day at school in Parchment, Michigan.

And a North Carolina school that is being investigated for claims made by parents of students with autism, that their children have been improperly restrained, handcuffed, and made to wrestle with other students and teaching assistants in a vacant classroom, dubbed the "WWF room".

"Seclusion and prone restraint in schools is a widespread problem that the public and even parents know little about," said NDRN Executive Director Curt Decker. "The goal of our report is to alert the public and also to provide guidance to key stakeholders on how to quickly resolve the issue."

"Children are supposed to be safe at school -- and most of the time they are," said U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut. "Unfortunately, this report shows us that in too many schools in too many places children with disabilities are not safe -- and are often subjected to inhuman treatment: being locked in rooms, tied down, or worse.

"Armed with this report, I will continue to work toward banning the inappropriate use of seclusion and restraint in our schools and ensuring the public knows and learns more about these practices."

The NDRN report notes that the "patchwork" of laws and lack of accountability and consistent documentaion makes it nearly impossible to get accurate information on how many students are being restrained or isolated, how often this is happening, how these techniques are being implemented, and when children are being injured from them.

The report also lists a number of recommendations for state policy makers, and state and local education officials on eliminating dangerous methods of restraints and seclusion.

NDRN Report: School Is Not Supposed To Hurt
Map of State Laws
"Restraints & Seclusion" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

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