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Fairfax, VA: Mom wins suit over 5-y-o with ADHD put in chokehold

Oct 6, 2021, Daily Mail: Mom sues Virginia school system after arriving to collect five-year-old son with ADHD for dentist to find school resource officer had put boy in CHOKEHOLD because he wouldn't stop singing in Spanish class

A mom has settled with a school district after arriving to pick her five year-old son up for a dentist's appointment to find he'd been put in a chokehold by staff. Pamela Ononiwu launched the lawsuit against Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) in Virginia after seeing her son - named in court papers as DO - restrained by a school resource officer at Fairview Elementary School in October 2018 while crying. Staff members told her DO, who suffers from ADHD, had been put in the chokehold after refusing to stop singing loudly during Spanish class. … In shock, the boy's mother tried to discuss the situation with the school principal, school district officials, and school board members, none of whom would talk with Ononiwu. 'Nobody thought it was heinous that a child was in a chokehold. No one had any empathy,' Ononiwu said. Her son is now eight years-old. Pamela Ononiwu's son, named as DO in court papers, was put in a chokehold at his school aged just five for refusing to stop singing loudly during a Spanish class. … But she has since called for greater resources for students with special needs, particularly students of color. She added that her daughter has also been restrained and secluded in the school. 'They dragged my daughter one day. My daughter told me they dragged her into a room; her shoes were in the hallway.' Ononiwu and two other parents then sued FCPS system claiming that they caused 'psychological trauma' and 'physical harm' on students with disabilities by using restraints and seclusion to 'silence, detain, segregate, and punish.' Pamela Ononiwu sued the Fairfax County School Board after finding her five-year-old son, who has ADHD, held in a chokehold by a school resource officer for singing in class … Ononiwu said the parties recently agreed to settle, with both monetary relief and major changes to the school's policy. She has refused to comment on the exact amount of money Fairfax County paid out. Fairfax County is one of America's wealthiest school districts, with a median household income of $103,000. It has hit the headlines amid ongoing clashes between parents and school board members over the teaching of critical race theory (CRT). … Brabrand said, 'We acknowledge that the use of restraint and seclusion is an especially sensitive and challenging issue and is appropriate only when less restrictive alternatives fail.' But he insisted that the independent review of the school system's procedures found that, 'its policies and practices with respect to restraint and seclusion are proper under all relevant laws.' However, a blog post shared by Ononiwu and written by Callie Oettinger, another parent fighting the FCPS for their special education program, stated that a new 'independent, third-party review' conducted by American Institutes for Research (AIR) found 'disturbing data.' The terrifying incident occurred at Fairview Elementary School in Fairfax Station, Virginia but is just one example of a national debate on restraint and seclusion practices in schools … The AIR also noted that both parents and staff felt that their complaints and inputs were not considered when making policy decisions that impact the 27,000 FCPS students in special education programs. … Data from the Department of Education showed that nearly 70,000 students with disabilities were restrained or secluded in a single school year and most special education students were restrained about three times. In May, the bill was introduced in the Senate and then referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. At the same time, the bill was introduced to the House. It is still in the first stage of the legislative process.


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