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TEXAS: CBS reveals tens of thousands of times restraint used on disabled kids

Feb 24, 2023, CBS Texas: I-Team: Handcuffed and restrained in hallways https://www.cbsnews.com/texas/news/i-team-handcuffed-restrained-hallways/

A little girl is simply sitting and listening to an adult reading to her inside a school office.

The woman on the other side of the desk has a book open showing the elementary school girl the pictures.

The office door opens and a police officer walks in. "Come over here," he says to the child. He has reached behind his back and grabbed handcuffs.

"Are those for me?" the little girl innocently asks.

"Those are for you," he replies.

The little girl has no idea what is about to happen.

"Don't put handcuffs on. Help me. Help me," she cries out.

This is one of many examples of body cam videos CBS News Stations nationwide obtained. They include young students, who do not appear to be posing threats to themselves or others, restrained and often arrested at school.

ISAAC AND ISIAH

10-year old Isaac and Isiah have experienced restraint at school repeatedly since age four according to their mom.

"I can't even put a number on it. More than 50 times," says Heather Alex.

The I-Team first introduced you to the Texas mom in November. "Held down, unable to move...holding their feet, holding their body over the floor."

The twins' school district could not comment.

Alex was asking for legislative change, and she now hopes lawmakers are responding as numbers reveal how many children with disabilities have been restrained.

RESTRAINT DATA

In Texas, the I-Team found many of the legal battles regarding restraints and arrests involved children with disabilities.

Texas Education Agency data reinforces those findings.

According to a CBS Analysis, the I-Team has learned, in three school years (2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21), school personnel, or police, restrained Texas children with disabilities at least 83,416 times. Our analysis found 44% of the total restraints involved children with an "emotional disturbance."

This is defined by Individuals with Disabilities Education A as a "condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects. Child's education performance includes:

An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or heath factors. An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.

Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstance

A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.

A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

CBS analysis found 22% of those restrained had autism.

And, 107 children had an orthopedic impairment, some type of physical disability. These restraints all tended to spike around the start of each school year.

TEXAS LEGISLATION

Three months after our I-Team investigation, lawmakers, advocates, and parents gathered at a news conference at the state capitol to support several new, recently introduced bills regarding restraints of children.

Representative Lacy Hull (R-Houston) talked about joining forces with Senator Royce West (D-Dallas) last session to pass "No Kids in Cuffs"; however, they say time ran out and the bi-partisan bills stalled.

This session Representative Hull said she reintroduced it as HB 459.

Senator West reintroduced it again - Senate Bill 133.

The companion bills would "prohibit the physical restraint of...students by peace officers and school security.... Under certain circumstances."

Several other lawmakers, including Representative Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso), also discussed their dedication to stop restraints in schools- particularly certain types of restraints including prone and supine.

"Prone" references lying a child on his/her face or stomach. "Supine" refers to a child face up while physical pressure is applied to keep the student restrained.


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