CLEVELAND—The survey findings on the use of seclusion and restraint on students with disabilities is astonishing, according to Shakyra Diaz, policy manager for the ACLU of Ohio. The Ohio Department of Education recently released the report on students in Ohio’s traditional public schools as a result of the state’s new restraint and seclusion policy.
Key findings from the survey revealed that 5,000 restraints occurred last year, some of which involve the same student multiple times. It also showed that 97 percent of those restrained in Ohio schools are students with disabilities.
“Students with disabilities deserve to be treated with respect and learn in nurturing, compassionate environments,” said Diaz. “Unfortunately, these statistics show Ohio has a long way to go until students with disabilities are not unfairly punished with outdated and ineffective techniques.
“For the first time Ohioans have a more comprehensive understanding of restraint and seclusion practices in our public schools,” Diaz added. “Creating a policy was an important first step. However, now that we have a full picture of the problem, more must be done to address these serious concerns.”
The repeated restraint or seclusion of the same child signals a need to review training, strategies, and supports, according to Diaz. In addition, repeat restraints or seclusions should prompt a review of the Individualized Education Plan of the student given that that overwhelming majority of those restrained are children with disabilities.
97 percent of those restrained in Ohio were students with disabilities, which is far outside of the national overage, Diaz said. Diaz points to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights most recent “Civil Rights Data Collection Snapshot of School Discipline,” which revealed that while students with disabilities represent 12 percent of the student population in the United States, they represent 58 percent of those secluded and 75 percent of those physically restrained.
The ACLU of Ohio advocates for transparent and safe school environments that ensure all children have equitable access to an education.