The Arc of the Mid Ohio Valley responds to local incident involving restraint and seclusion

By The Arc of the Mid Ohio Valley

It is our position, at The Arc of the Mid Ohio Valley, that every child deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, be free from abuse and bullying, and that policies restricting the use of restraint and seclusion should apply to all children, not just children with disabilities.

Furthermore, The Arc of the Mid Ohio Valley believes that all individuals involved in the education of students with disabilities must:

  • Ensure that students with disabilities are not subjected to unwarranted restraint or isolation and must ensure that any behavioral intervention is consistent with the child’s civil rights.
  • Ensure that teachers and related services personnel, as well as their representatives are prepared to teach and/or support students effectively in the general education curriculum and in inclusive settings to the maximum extent appropriate, alongside students who do not have disabilities.
  • Develop Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that build on student strengths, meet the student’s needs, and offer supports and services necessary to achieve success, that ensure students are served in the least restrictive environment (LRE), as determined for each student.

As outlined in West Virginia Code, the legislature charges school administrators, faculty, staff and volunteers with “demonstrating appropriate behavior, treating others with civility and respect, and refusing to tolerate harassment, intimidation or bullying”, which is any intentional gesture, or any intentional electronic, written, verbal or physical act, communication, transmission or threat that creates an emotionally abusive educational environment for a student.

With respect to this recent incident involving a 15-year old Wood County student who has a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, it is important to point out that individuals with autism spectrum disorders are three times as likely as their typically-developing siblings to experience bullying, according to a recent national survey.

According to the survey of parents by the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) and Johns Hopkins University researchers, 61 percent of kids with Asperger syndrome have experienced bullying. In comparison, 28 percent of children with autism and 37 percent of children with other autism spectrum disorders have been bullied, parents reported.

Asperger syndrome is a form of autism, which is a lifelong disability that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people. Autism is often described as a ‘spectrum disorder’ because those with the diagnosis are affected in many different ways and to varying degrees.

The Arc of the Mid Ohio Valley is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring satisfying and productive lives for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through programs and services, they empower, encourage, and assist those individuals to live, learn, worship, work and play, in their community.

The Arc Responds to ABC News Report on Restraint and Seclusion

Washington, DC – After reviewing the ABC News piece on restraint and seclusion in America’s schools, The Arc issued the following statement.

“No child should ever be exposed to these kinds of harmful practices.  Children with disabilities are especially at risk and these practices are used on them at disproportionate rates.  The Arc applauds ABC News’ work to shed light on restraint and seclusion in America’s schools, and we hope it sparks action in Congress to pass legislation to put in place national standards that keep our classrooms safe and require all school personnel to receive training in effective positive behavioral interventions,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

Background

Reports from the Government Accountability Office and the National Disability Rights Network have documented that children are injured, traumatized and even killed as a result of restraint and seclusion in schools and that the use of these dangerous techniques is widespread.  The Arc believes that the harm suffered by students through the use of dangerous restraint and seclusion practices in our nation’s schools is unacceptable.  Numerous alternatives to restraint and seclusion exist, including positive behavioral interventions and supports and other methods for preventing and stopping problem behaviors.

In March of 2012, The Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education released data from the 2009-10 school year that shows that tens of thousands of school-aged children were secluded or restrained.  The Department’s data are from 72,000 schools that educate 85 percent of the nation’s students.  It shows that 70 percent of students subjected to the techniques have disabilities. There are no current federal standards on the use of the techniques in schools.

The Arc supports the Keeping All Students Safe Act, introduced by U.S. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa and U.S. Representative George Miller of California, to allow the use of physical restraint only when someone is in danger of being harmed, while ensuring that personnel receive proper training, that parents are aware of any restraint or seclusion used with their children and that the most dangerous types of restraint and seclusion are eliminated.

The Arc Stands Up For Safety of Kids with Disabilities in the Classroom

Questions Report that Promotes Restraint and Seclusion

Washington, DC – In a letter to U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, The Arc expressed serious concerns about a recent report from the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) that promotes the use of restraint and seclusion as tools to protect students and school personnel. The Arc supports the Keeping All Students Safe Act, introduced by Senator Harkin and Representative George Miller (D-CA), to allow the use of physical restraint only when someone is in danger of being harmed, while ensuring that personnel receive proper training, that parents are aware of any restraint or seclusion used with their children and that the most dangerous types of restraint and seclusion are eliminated.

The AASA report is in stark contrast to reports from the Government Accountability Office and the National Disability Rights Network that document that children are injured, traumatized and even killed as a result of restraint and seclusion in schools and that the use of these dangerous techniques is widespread. The AASA report relies on a survey of an unknown number of AASA’s members, and portrays restraint and seclusion as a tool to be relied on by educators. The Arc believes that the harm suffered by students through the use of dangerous restraint and seclusion practices in our nation’s schools is unacceptable. Numerous alternatives to restraint and seclusion exist, including positive behavioral interventions and supports and other methods for preventing and stopping problem behaviors.

The Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education just released data from the 2009-10 school year that shows that tens of thousands of school-aged children were secluded or restrained. The Department’s data are from 72,000 schools that educate 85 percent of the nation’s students. It shows that 70 percent of students subjected to the techniques have disabilities. There are no current federal standards on the use of the techniques in schools.

“This data should be a wakeup call to educators across the country – the use of restraint and seclusion is a national problem that disproportionately impacts students with disabilities,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc. “There are positive ways to manage behavior problems and school personnel need training in those methods.”

Students are not the only ones being hurt when restraint and seclusion are used. School staff sometimes is hurt when they use the practices, resulting in staff taking sick leave or even retiring from teaching.

“The Arc is concerned with the safety of students as well as school personnel and we support national standards that help prevent dangerous behavior problems and promote a positive and safe school climate,” commented Berns.

The Arc urges Congress to act quickly to protect all students in all schools, and pass the Keeping All Students Safe Act immediately.