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MAINE: Huge increase in restraint/seclusion use in schools; 80% involves SPED kids

May 24, 2019, Lewiston (ME) Sun Journal: Lawmakers seek to track, reduce schools’ use of restraint and seclusion AUGUSTA — A legislative committee endorsed a bill Thursday that aims to improve tracking of how often Maine schools physically restrain or place students in seclusion. The bill would require schools to provide more detailed annual reports to the state on the number of instances of restraint or seclusion of students, as well as any injuries incurred by either students or staff. The proposal also would require the Maine Department of Education to develop plans to monitor trends at individual schools and to increase professional development to help staff avoid and manage incidents with unruly or dangerous students…. “You don’t need to be an educator if you are shoving kids in mop closets,” said Rep. Justin Fecteau, R-Augusta. Fecteau was responding to one incident detailed in a report on restraint and seclusion that was released last week by the nonprofit advocacy organization Disability Rights Maine. The report found that use of physical restraints and seclusion jumped 60 percent – from 12,000 to 20,000 instances – in four years in Maine schools. Roughly 77 to 79 percent of those incidences involved students with disabilities or who were in special education programs. And the majority of restraint or seclusion cases occurred at “special purpose private schools” that exclusively serve students with disabilities or special needs, according to the report. … Fecteau raised concerns that egregious cases of restraint or seclusion that would make headlines if they occurred in a typical classroom are being tolerated when they involve special education students. Fecteau said he would like to see firmer enforcement mechanisms – including holding principals accountable – if schools tolerate such treatment of students or fail to accurately report incidents to the state….


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