Ohio

Eye on Education

Special Ed Lawyer says ODE’s Report on Columbus Schools’ Seclusion and Restraint Use “Reads Like a Horror Story”

Auntie P / flickr

The Ohio Department of Education recently wrapped up an investigation into the Columbus school district’s use of seclusion and restraint, and found that the district had done nothing wrong.

But Aimee Gilman, a special education attorney, is unsatisfied with the department’s findings. In a letter to department officials, Gilman writes:

“The descriptions in your findings read like a horror story. Children were repeatedly restrained and secluded, some for as long as 3 hours. And frankly, the tone of your letter suggests that the difficult behaviors are the fault of the child which justifies the district’s response.”

The investigation was a response to complaints from the parents of a special education student in the district.

The report found there was no wrongdoing on the part of the district, and that the student (as well as other special education students in the district) did receive a “free and appropriate public education” as required by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Gilman wrote that the investigation should have included interviews with the child’s parent. Without the parent’s input, Gilman argues, the department can’t tell whether the student received a free and appropriate education.

According to the state report, the student’s record was examined and the student’s school was visited by an investigator.

The report did find records showing 371 students had been restrained or secluded 1,829 times.

Some see those numbers alone as a problem. The Columbus Dispatch reports:

“It really shows a district, in many places, that is out of control,” said Sue Tobin, the chief legal counsel for Disability Rights Ohio.

The Columbus Dispatch also reported that the investigator at one point worked for the district.

Complaint investigator Christine Cline’s tenure in Columbus was short — about six months in 2010. And she said through the Education Department spokesman that she didn’t deal at all with seclusion or restraint policies while she was there. The department forbids its investigators from looking into issues in districts for one year after they’ve left. Cline didn’t fall into that category, so she was approved to investigate.

You can read the entire report into the Columbus school district’s use of seclusion rooms and restraints below.

Comments

  • SpotOnHead

    In case you haven’t paid attention, ODE is a scam itself. Abuse, misuse and agendas. Of course ODE found no wrongdoing, just as they find no wrongdoing internally with a board president who irrationally compares Hitler to POTUS in a Facebook status while an employee was disciplined for a general post on their FB page, or no wrongdoing in ODE promoting scam artists to receive tax dollars for their SES program, or no wrongdoing in their jaded epic fail called EMIS, or paying clueless individuals to lead some efforts or rather sit in meetings and spout off nonsense while its supported by supervisors who are too busy gossiping and the list goes on….

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »

Economy
Education