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MAINE: Editorial slams growing use of restraint/seclusion on SPED students

May 15, 2019, (Editorial) Our View: Use of restraints, seclusion means schools are failing An increase in extreme interventions is a clear sign that schools either do not have the will or the resources to deal with challenging behavior. If physical restraints and seclusion are only used in emergencies, then why are so many Maine students in emergency so much of the time? That’s the question now before the Mills administration and the Legislature after the most recent report on the use of emergency interventions in Maine schools. A seclusion room, also called a “quiet” room, at Harpswell Community School, is at issue with a mother who says both her sons have spent time in the room she claims is dangerous. The report, from Disability Rights Maine, shows that the use of restraints and seclusion on students has increased 60 percent in four years. Some of that increase may be attributed to an increase in reporting of such instances following the implementation of new rules in 2012. But it is also a clear sign that schools either do not have the will or the resources to deal with students prone to challenging behavior. The report estimates there were roughly 20,000 instances of emergency intervention in Maine schools in 2018, at least four and as many as 11 times more than the national average. Nearly 80 percent of interventions are done on students with disabilities…. Physical restraints often involve a “bear hug” or forcing a child to lay on the floor. In legislative testimony, one mother recalled her 70-pound 12-year-old daughter being restrained on the floor by three adults. With seclusion, students are placed involuntarily in a safe room. It can be traumatic, as detailed recently by a mom whose two sons were both put in a seclusion room at a school in Harpswell. … The rules instituted in 2012, known as Chapter 33, recognized that. They said emergency interventions should only be used in emergencies. They included notification and reporting requirements designed to hold schools accountable, and to encourage them to use de-escalation techniques to keep student behaviors manageable. The rules haven’t worked. The number of emergency interventions has gone up each year since 2012, and Maine’s rate is way out of whack with the national average. Whether through a lack of manpower, training or desire, Maine schools are falling short in keeping students with disabilities from falling into emergency on a regular basis….


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