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IOWA: 60% of schools FALSELY report ZERO times restraint/seclusion use; 'pervasive ..underreporting'

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

July 1, 2019, Cedar Rapids (IA) Gazette: School seclusion underreported in Iowa, other states, report shows—U.S. Government Accountability Office wants Education Department to fix reporting problems https://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/school-seclusion-iowa-school-districts-underreporting-20190701 Nearly 60 percent of Iowa school districts reported no student seclusion or restraint incidents in 2015-2016, part of a “pervasive pattern of underreporting” nationwide, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Most American school districts are required every two years to report seclusion and restraint data to the federal government’s Civil Rights Data Collection as a way for parents, educators and government officials to monitor use of these last-resort practices used with agitated children whose behavior threatens harm to themselves or others. “Our analyses of 2015-16 CRDC data and review of Education documents indicate that CRDC data do not accurately capture all incidents of restraint and seclusion in schools,” the GAO wrote in a June 18 report to Congress. The Accountability Office found 70 percent of districts nationwide — including some large districts, such as New York and Philadelphia public schools — reported zeros for incidents of seclusion and restraint. Follow-up interviews with some of the districts show many listed zeros when they should have left the fields blank because they didn’t have data for various reasons…. The report was sparked, in part, by a 2018 request from U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley for the U.S. Department of Education to investigate “systemic misreporting” of seclusion and restraint incidents. The Iowa Republican senators called out the Cedar Rapids Community School District in the May 17, 2018, letter for having 1,400 incidents of seclusion and restraint in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, but reporting zero incidents to the federal government. … “I want this to be handled at the local and state level,” he said. “I think this information is very important to bring public understanding that it’s a problem. We need to keep monitoring the situation and hopefully that solves the issue.” …