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Fairfax County, VA: $1M to reduce restraint/seclusion of disabled students

May 24, 2019, American University Radio (Washington, DC): Fairfax County (VA) Allocates Over $1 Million To Address Seclusion And Restraint Practices Multiple Fairfax County Public School Board members said addressing special education concerns was a priority in the adoption of a $3 billion dollar budget for the next school year…. The adopted budget is a 4.1% increase from the previous year, and includes over $1 million to remedy isolation and restraint practices in the district. For most of the last 10 years, school officials reported no cases of seclusion or restraint to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. But last March, a WAMU investigation revealed hundreds of cases in which elementary students in schools designed to serve students with special needs were secluded and restrained. In some cases, children were as young as six. One child was isolated more than 100 times in a school year. … In Fairfax County Schools, district guidelines prohibit seclusion “unless there is a dangerous situation, and seclusion/restraint is necessary to protect the student or another person or persons.” But findings from an internal review conducted by the district following the WAMU investigation revealed 1,679 incidents of seclusion and restraint affecting 203 students in the 2017-18 school year. It also showed that in some instances, school staff weren’t following guidelines for secluding and restraining students. Next school year’s budget will include funding for multiple teaching-specialist positions, including five behavioral specialists. The district currently has 17 behavioral specialists working with 12 to 14 schools each. … In addition to the new teaching positions, which are estimated to cost about $800,000, the district is also setting aside funding for professional development. Professional development funding of $300,000 will now go towards training teachers who may need to seclude or restrain students. The district is also setting aside multiple millions that will go towards pay increases for support staff who work with special needs students, like instructional and public health assistants. … Sanders says this funding is in addition to the $550 million yearly expenditure the district already makes for students with special needs. There are also planning to hire a new special education ombudsman.


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