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Report: Ohio Schools Still Restrain Too Many Students

Feb 9, 2016

A disability rights group says it's found gaps in the way Ohio schools enforce a rule limiting the seclusion and restraint of unruly students.

Disability Rights Ohio says the Ohio Department of Education needs a stronger way to monitor schools for compliance with the policy. Group spokesperson Kristin Hildebrand says the department should review data on restraint and seclusion already provided by districts.

A 2013 department rule restricts the use of seclusion rooms or physical restraint as punishment or for staff convenience. Schools are required to report seclusion and restraint incidents, but the department lacks authority to force districts to provide the information, and schools are not sanctioned if they fail to do so.  Hildebrand says the department also needs effective investigation for violations of the rule. The report says there were thousands of incidents of restraint and seclusion reported in the 2014-2015 school year, which disproportionately involved kids of color and those with disabilities. Hildebrand says the practices are especially harmful for kids with a history of trauma, who typically need extra supports in the classroom.

Hildebrand says the department is working to train districts on other interventions, but says there are often not enough resources and support for it to be effective.

The department says it is working to help districts understand reporting requirements.