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Massachusetts: Schools with MORE SPED STUDENT have higher rates of restraint use

Nov 11, 2018, Fitchburg (MA) Sentinel and Enterprise: Restraint use high in three districts Last year, schools in Lowell, Billerica and Fitchburg saw the highest number of students restrained by staff among public school districts in northern Middlesex and Worcester counties, according to state education data released in September. … In January 2016, the state began requiring school districts to collect and file annual restraint data with DESE. … Local reports State data for the 2017-18 school year show that among the region's most frequent users of the restraint practice are three schools run by Lowell Public Schools: Leblanc Therapeutic Day School, Laura Lee Therapeutic Day School and the Lowell Day School on Broadway. Each school, which caters to students with special needs, saw staff perform restraints on between 22 percent and 30 percent of its population. …________________________________________ Statewide, there were 4,889 students restrained a total of 38,994 times last school year. This represents almost 3,000 fewer restraints from the 2016-17 school year, the first year data was collected, though the number of students restrained increased by about 11 percent year over year. … According to Connelly, nationwide "restraint" can refer to a number of techniques. It can involve the full body, like a prone restraint, which has been linked to suffocation. The prone restraint is banned in Massachusetts except in specific situations, depending on the student's behavioral and medical history. Parents or guardians must also give consent in advanced of the employment of this type of restraint, according to the new law. In other cases, Connelly said a "hand over hand" restraint is used. "If they're hitting their head with their hand, holding their hand could be a restraint," he said. … Restraints and special education programs are often closely linked. Schools with high numbers of restraints tend to be those that serve students with special needs, a trend which has caused outcry among groups like the Disability Law Center. "While DLC understands some student populations, due to disabilities, are prone to repeated self-injurious and/or aggressive behaviors this does not negate the schools' responsibility to only use restraint as a matter of last resort and does not minimize its obligation to work diligently to find less intrusive and less dangerous interventions," according to a release from the group published in February. … "Students within these programs may need/receive additional support to help regulate themselves physically and emotionally," she wrote in an email. They're more likely to have a history of trauma or involvement with government services like the Department of Children and Families, she wrote. … Because restraints are tied to the student's difficulty regulating themselves, a majority of restraints happen in lower grade levels, according to Demanche…. If a student has ongoing behavioral issues, the district can develop a behavioral plan and work with the district's three certified behavioral analysts. …


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