Press Release: Disability Rights Maine Report Calls for Action to Address the Rise of Seclusion and Restraint in Maine Schools

CONTACT: Ben Jones

May 13, 2019

Disability Rights Maine Report Calls for Action to Address the Rise of Seclusion and Restraint in Maine Schools

AUGUSTA – This morning, Disability Rights Maine (DRM) released a report entitled Restraint and Seclusion in Maine Schools: Reviewing the First Six Years of Data Required by MDOE Rule Chapter 33. DRM’s report is based on a review and analysis of the first six years of data collected by the Maine Department of Education, as well as data reported to the federal government and data DRM obtained through public records requests. It serves to update DRM’s 2017 Report on restraint and seclusion.

DRM found: 1) the use of restraint and seclusion has increased every year since 2014 – from 12,000 to more than 20,000 in 2018; 2) data remains incomplete because multiple covered entities fail to report every year; and 3) students with disabilities continue to be disproportionately subjected to restraint and seclusion, as a majority of the restraints and seclusions in Maine take place in special purpose private schools for children with disabilities.

The report concludes: “At this point, Chapter 33 can only be seen as a failure. Bold action is required to ensure that we have done more than simply normalize violence against children. Each and every use of restraint or seclusion should be treated like a true emergency. Because the use of restraint or seclusion is a signal that something is not working for that child, for that teacher, or in that school. Schools and teachers must be given the resources they need to meet the needs of all students without the need for continued reliance on these dangerous and ineffective practices. Maine must do better.”

“Restraint and seclusion are dangerous and ineffective practices. They are supposed to be reserved for emergency situations, but as the data shows, they are being used at alarming rates and it continues to rise every year. Just last school year, there were an estimated 20,000 restraints and seclusions in Maine schools and likely more. This translates to a restraint or seclusion every 5 minutes that school is in session. Something has to change,” said Ben Jones, staff attorney for Disability Rights Maine.

“Maine students are restrained and secluded at rates over four to eleven times the national average, and students with disabilities are subjected to these practices at significantly disproportionate rates. After reviewing six years of data and reflecting on the experiences of DRM’s clients, it is clear that Chapter 33 is not working as intended,” added Jones.

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.


Updated Chapter 33 Report (Word)

Updated Chapter 33 Report (PDF)

Source: Disability Rights Maine, May 13, 2019