Two Ohio teachers caught on video dragging an Autistic boy will not be criminally charged. The disturbing video below shows the teachers restraining the boy. The teachers still face possible disciplinary action.
This type of incident of restraint and physical punishment of students with disabilities is more common than you might think.
A study of 99% of public schools by the United States Office of Civil Rights found that students with disabilities are restrained and secluded at a much higher rate than their typical peers. The office found that although students served under IDEA make up only 12% of the U.S. public school population, they make up 67% of students who were restrained or secluded.
That’s 70,000 students with disabilities who were restrained or secluded in the 2013-14 school year, for which the last data was recorded. Let that sink in for a moment. And assuredly there’s a lot more incidents that are not reported.
A “No Consent” Letter for Restraint and Seclusion
The best way to prevent this type of incident from happening to your child is to find out if your school’s personnel are trained in non-violent crisis prevention and to add a “No Consent” letter for restraint or seclusion in your child’s official records. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is very clear about this issue. The law states that school districts MUST consider the use of positive behavioral supports and Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) plans if a child’s behavior interferes with their education or the education of others, but most do not.
I could never imagine my son’s teachers using the techniques the teachers above used and my son doesn’t really have any violent behaviors. Still, I have a “No Consent” letter on file. The statistics are not in your child’s favor, no matter who your child’s teacher is. It’s prudent to add this type of letter to your child’s record whether you like their teachers or not.
What should be included in a “No Consent” Letter
A “No Consent” letter will make it clear that you do not approve or consent to any harmful or exclusionary techniques. Include the following in your letter:
- Name and contact information for your school district
- Date that you send the letter
- Name of your child, birthday, and school they attend
- Describe your child’s disability and any behavior concerns you have
- Clearly state that you do not consent to any negative behavior techniques including: restraint, seclusion, physical management, seclusionary time outs, forcible holding, dragging, use of ties and straps, slaps, deliberate humiliation, or deprivation of nutrition or exercise.
- Clearly state your opposition to these strategies: This letter is to make it clear that I have not authorized or given consent to any of the above strategies being used on my child
- Add family emergency contact information in case any situation arises where the school feels they cannot respond in a safe and non-threatening way.
- Make clear that IDEA states that only positive behavior supports like a formal behavior analysis should be used. Add that you would like to be part of any team that develops a FBA plan.
- Add any effective behavior techniques that have worked in the past for your child.
- Ask that an IEP meeting be held if problems arise or persist.
- Thank them and remind them that you will be holding them accountable if any restraint or seclusion technique without your permission.
The last time Congress took up the issue was in 2010, but the bill died because of language in the bill that would have allowed restraint and seclusion to be written into the students IEP. Now the federal government under the new Every Student Succeeds Act is requiring states to reduce these “adversive behavior interventions.” Sadly, parents must be proactive about the possibility of restraint and seclusion until school districts and the government takes a clear stand.
If you want to see a sample of a “No Consent” letter click here.