DISABILITY

New Disability Rights Ohio report highlights lack of enforcement of Ohio Department of Education’s restraint and seclusion rule 

February 8, 2016

COLUMBUS, OHIO – A new report released today by Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) outlines gaps in enforcement of the Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE) rule regulating restraint and seclusion in schools. The report also makes recommendations to improve oversight of schools’ implementation of the rule.

In 2013, upon the urging of Disability Rights Ohio, the ACLU of Ohio, and other advocates, the Ohio Department of Education established a rule limiting the use of restraint and seclusion in Ohio schools to situations where there is an imminent risk of physical harm. The rule requires implementation of an alternative to restraint and seclusion, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, a validated approach to reduce or eliminate any need for restraint or seclusion.
DRO’s report highlights that the Ohio Department of Education has no system for monitoring schools for compliance of the rule, inadequate reporting and notification of incidents, insufficient recourse for parents and students when the rule has been violated, and no coordinated effort among agencies to thoroughly investigate incidents.
“Ending unnecessary and often dangerous uses of restraint and seclusion in Ohio’s schools requires more than putting a policy in place,” said Michael Kirkman, Executive Director of Disability Rights Ohio. “The lack of leadership, resources, and robust enforcement is placing too many of Ohio’s children and those who teach them at risk of serious harm and continued trauma,” continued Kirkman.

The report recommends the development of stronger monitoring and reporting systems; implementation of consistent reporting, notification, and documentation requirements; and improved cross-agency collaboration on investigations of restraint and seclusion.

For more information contact:  Disability Rights Ohio is the federal and state designated Protection and Advocacy System and Client Assistance Program for the state of Ohio, providing legal advocacy and rights protection to a wide range of people with disabilities.