Putting Education Reform To The Test

Lawsuit Challenges Schools’ Ability To Restrain Students

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An Ohio state agency is suing Columbus public schools over the use of “seclusion rooms often used to isolate special needs students, according to our colleagues at StateImpact Ohio.

Florida also allows schools to seclude and restrain students with disabilities. The state places a few limits on schools: Students can not be choked or their breathing restricted; and schools can not turn off the lights in a room where a student is secluded.

A bill proposed this year would have placed additional limits on schools, such as requiring anyone placing restraints on a student to be trained by the school district and requiring a medical evaluation after a student has been restrained.

That bill is in a Senate committee as the session winds down its final days.

Here’s the details on the Ohio lawsuit:

In the lawsuit filed Monday in federal court, the Ohio Legal Rights Service says it has initiated a “district-wide investigation of abuse, neglect and/or significant rights violation” in Columbus, Ohio’s largest school district.

The investigation came about after the mother of an autistic student contacted the agency about her son being placed seclusion room — which she called a “closet” — more than once, according to the lawsuit. The mother said that her son, who is autistic, “had urinated in the room, was lying on the floor, and contracted a staph infection,” according to the lawsuit.

An agency investigator visited the school and described the seclusion room as a “a padded room with a metal door that had two peep holes and a foot latch lock,” according to the lawsuit. The agency said in the lawsuit that they believe at least four Columbus elementary schools have these kinds of rooms.

Should schools be able to restrain students? What about those with disabilities? Has this been used at your child’s school?


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