If my child is being restrained and/or secluded?
A question we commonly get at the Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint is what can I do if my child is being restrained and/or secluded at school? First, you need to know that you are not alone, other parents are going through this as well, and we have a community that is here to help. Next, the use of restraint and seclusion can lead to significant trauma, injury, and even death. If you are concerned about the safety of your child do what you must to ensure their safety, this should be a top priority. Finally, though you may feel powerless, it is important to understand that you can impact change, there are things that you can do to make a difference. Here are a few actions you can take to influence change:
- Find a person at your school who wants to help, it can be beneficial to have allies in your school and on your Individualized Education Program (IEP) team.
- Request an IEP meeting to discuss the use of restraint and seclusion. The use of these interventions indicates that your child’s needs are not being properly met.
- Review your child’s behavior intervention plan (BIP), if he or she has one. If not request a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) so that a BIP can be developed.
- Connect with other parents in your area that have had similar experiences, perhaps through a special education PTA or citizens advisory group.
- Read your state’s law related to the use of restraint and seclusion. Was the school’s use of restraint and/or seclusion within the scope of the current laws?
- Review the Department of Education’s Restraint and Seclusion resource document and the 2016 Dear Colleague Letter.
- Find data on your districts use of restraint and seclusion, your state may collect data or you can find it on the Office of Civil Rights website.
- Contact your local disability rights center (www.ndrn.org) and your local parent center (www.parentcenterhub.org).
- Consider whether you should hire a disability rights attorney or special education advocate.
- Provide a public comment about your concerns to your local board of education and/or ask members of your board of education to meet with you.
- Contact your state-level representatives and share your story and concerns. Ask your representatives to contact your local superintendent on your behalf.
- Reach out to your congressional and senate representatives and share your concerns and ideas (ideally, once the Keeping all Kids Safe Act is re-introduced).
- Research alternative approaches, such as the Collaborative Proactive Solutions model and Ukeru.
- Advocate for a different approach with your IEP team, provide them a book like “Lost at School” and/or “Beyond Behaviors“.
- Consider taking your story to the local press/media. Media attention can shine a light on your issue.
- Share your story, let us know if you would have any interest in writing an article for the AASR website.
- Join COPAA or another organization that advocates on a national level. COPAA is a great way to find attorneys and advocates in your area.
This is not an exhaustive list of all the things that you can do, but hopefully, it will provide a starting point. Take action, any action you can! It is important that you stand up for the civil, constitutional, and human rights of your child. We need to try to change policies and laws in our local school systems, our states and across the country. There are far better ways to work with behaviorally challenging children that are in fact safer for all – the students, teachers, and staff. We can and must do better for our children!