Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Agency
Department of Education
Board
State Board of Education
chapter
[under development] Regulations Governing the Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools in Virginia [8 VAC 20 ‑ 750]
Action Promulgating new regulation governing seclusion & restraint in public elementary & secondary schools
Stage Proposed
Comment Period Ends 4/19/2019
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4/19/19  5:24 pm
Commenter: Lisa Stephens

End Seclusion and unnecessary restraint
 

My family has been impacted by the use of seclusion and restraint. My son is on the Autism spectrum has ADHD and social anxiety. He was in public Schools throughout his elementary years and thrived, however following a couple of traumatic events, including being dragged down a hallway, at the end of fifth grade we homeschooled him for two years because he did not want to return to school.  

 

Last Spring, my son expressed a desire to return to public school.  We worked really hard with our school staff to develop an IEP that we felt would be appropriate for him. One of the things we stressed to the team was that he does not respond well to a hands-on approach. We provided the IEP team a tremendous amount of information on how to work successfully with our son.

 

He was in school for only 3 days this past Fall when I received a call to come to pick him upl. He was upset about his reward not being tallied in a way he thought was fair. This caused him to elope and he was then escorted to the “quiet room”. He was beginning to de-escalate and was told I had been called to come to get him. This caused him to believe that he was in trouble and he got upset again and again attempted to elope.

 

When I arrived I was escorted by a school administrator to a hallway where I witnessed a scene that was horrifying to me as a parent. My son was sweating profusely and extremely red in the face, 8 adults surrounded him to prevent him from “escaping”. This had apparently gone on for about 45 minutes before I had arrived. Every time he would move at all the adults moved as well and kept him confined in a tight circle. Clearly, no one was successfully working to deescalate the situation, only contain it.  I knew he needed space, but when I tried to tell the staff they wouldn't listen and they stated they needed to keep him safe. Eventually, he seemed exhausted from being pursued for nearly an hour and was ready to walk to the car. Shortly after leaving the school my son was able to calm down, but he was so upset he said he didn't want to go back.

 

The school did not document this incident as they did not feel that it met the criteria for seclusion or restraint. I disagree he was clearly secluded in an area and prevented egress, the definition of seclusion according to state law. Aside from walking away, there was no imminent danger here, he was not threat to himself or others. He just was just upset and needed some space and support.  

 

Over the next 12 school days, seclusion and restraint techniques were used a number of times on my son.  We believe the number of instances to be 4 or 5 although we only received paperwork for two instances and only after we requested it.  The point is these interventions are dangerous and unnecessary. And it gets worse, there are cases where children have died due to the use of seclusion and restraint.  

 

On November 28th, 2018, Max Benson, a 13 year old autistic boy in California, allegedly kicked a wall. A staff member decided to restrain the child by placing him on the ground, prone on his stomach, they held him for an hour.  He died two days later.

 

On April 18th, 2012, Corey Foster, a sixteen-year-old boy in New York, was playing basketball in the school’s gym. Staff members asked him to leave the court he became agitated and; in response, four staff members then restrained him on the gym floor, he went into cardiac arrest and died.

This should never happen! There are better ways. We need to do better for our kids. Our kids deserve better!