Press Release: Disability Rights Maine Issues Report Regarding the Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Maine Schools
Posted on April 19, 2017
CONTACT: Ben Jones
AUGUSTA – Earlier today, Disability Rights Maine (DRM) released a report entitled “RESTRAINT AND SECLUSION IN MAINE SCHOOLS, Reviewing the First Four Years of Data Required by MDOE Rule Chapter 33.”
Collection of restraint and seclusion data by Maine Department of Education (MDOE) began in 2013 after a consensus based rulemaking effort to develop rules regulating the use of these practices. The resulting rule is commonly referred to as “Chapter 33”. These regulations define restraint and seclusion as emergency interventions that may only be used when there is a risk of injury or harm, and only after less intrusive interventions have failed. Chapter 33 also requires schools to collect and report data to MDOE. DRM reviewed the first four years of Chapter 33 data in drafting this report. Over the course of several months, DRM compiled and analyzed data, reviewed real-life cases of students being restrained and/or secluded, and spoke with community members who provided feedback into the development of this report.
The key findings in the report are: 1) students with disabilities are restrained and secluded at significantly higher rates than students without disabilities; 2) many schools have failed to make required reports to MDOE over the past four years, so we still do not know how often these emergency interventions are used; 3) there are serious concerns with the reliability and consistency of the data that has been reported; and 4) schools may not be fulfilling their obligation to review data quarterly in order to identify ways to reduce the future use of restraint and seclusion.
“An average of over 13,000 uses of restraint or seclusion are reported each year by Maine schools. And due to failures to report required data, the actual number of restraints and seclusions is no doubt higher. We still do not know how often these emergency interventions are being used. DRM is hopeful that the report will provoke questions, analysis, and action by schools and MDOE, and that these actions will lead to a reduction in the use of these dangerous and ineffective interventions,” said Ben Jones, staff attorney for Disability Rights Maine.
Through its operation of multiple federal and state funded programs, DRM advocates for individuals with disabilities whose rights have been violated, who are at risk of abuse or neglect, or who have faced discrimination on the basis of their disability. DRM seeks redress where rights concerns arise related housing, education, physical access, rehabilitation, health care, community supports, and employment. Additionally, DRM works toward public policy reform through training, outreach and systemic advocacy.
Source: Disability Rights Maine, April 2017