Ruthie Beckwith Takes Part in Interview on California Settlement on Punishment in Private Schools

Ruthie Beckwith Takes Part in Interview on California Settlement on Punishment in Private Schools

TASH‘s new Executive Director, Ruthie-Marie Beckwith, speaks with EDSource about the federal investigation into Oakland Unified School District, the Anova Center for Education Contra Costa and the education of 9-year-old Stuart Candell.

Beckwith called the practice of restraint and seclusion “still pervasive” in special education, despite a statement from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency that restraint can lead to psychological harm, physical injuries and death to both the people subjected to and the staff applying these techniques. Read the full article HERE.

Ukeru Publishes New Infographic: A Case For Eliminating Restraint & Seclusion

Ukeru Publishes New Infographic: A Case For Eliminating Restraint & Seclusion

Ukeru Systems is a division of Grafton Integrated Health Network, a nationally-recognized leader in providing multiple levels of support to people with a wide range of emotional and/or behavioral challenges. Over the past 10 years, Grafton developed unique and award winning care management tools and techniques. Ukeru Systems now provides Grafton’s behavioral management tools and care trainings to other behavioral health providers.

Ukera is committed to not only reducing the use of restraint and seclusion, but also replacing these procedures with alternatives that promoted a safe, comforting and secure environment. Recently, Ukera released a new infographic that focuses on eliminating the use of restraint and seclusion. View the infographic HERE.

Eliminating restraint and seclusion infographic

Barb Trader Discusses Use of Harsh Discipline in Private Schools

Barb Trader Discusses Use of Harsh Discipline in Private Schools

Barb Trader, Executive Director for TASH, was recently part of an interview about the use of restraints, seclusion or punishment in private schools. The article discusses California Attorney General Kamala Harris investigation into the use of harsh discipline – including physical restraints and isolation  – on students with disabilities who attend publicly funded private special. Read the full article HERE.

Protection in Prisons Surpasses Protection in Schools

Protection in Prisons Surpasses Protection in Schools

On Monday, January 25, President Barack Obama announced a groundbreaking executive action banning solitary confinement for juveniles and low-level offenders in federal prisons, noting in a Washington Post op-ed that the age-old punishment technique of isolation is “increasingly overused” and can lead to “devastating, lasting psychological consequences.”

People with disabilities, their parents, and their many allies applaud this significant move. We do so with the knowledge that many juveniles placed in our prisons and subjected to dangerous isolation already have so-called “invisible disabilities” affecting their learning, understanding of social cues, and mental health, and that the use of isolation as a punishment or treatment can derail the development of juveniles in ways that exacerbate — and may even cause — the emergence of disability.

But a profoundly important and obvious question remains: Why are most of our nation’s public schools still permitted to use a form of solitary confinement, known as “seclusion,” to punish or “treat” students with disabilities? These young people have been accused of no crime. Research has shown, time and again, that they do not benefit from this terrifying experience. The practices of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and Trauma-Informed Care offer many safe and appropriate alternatives. Yet only a tiny minority of states have enacted laws that ban or even limit seclusion in our schools.  With the President’s recent action, we now have reached the point where some students with disabilities could enjoy better protections from seclusion in prison than they are offered in their own schools, where they are supposed to feel safe and loved.

Seclusion is a form of restraint – that is, of forcefully preventing a person from moving about or engaging in various activities. Where you find seclusion, you often find physical, hands-on restraint as well, sometimes as part of the process of forcing a distressed student into a seclusion room. Prone restraint, in which a person is held face down on the floor, is widely recognized as potentially lethal due to the rapidity with which asphyxiation can occur, and is now banned in increasing numbers of service delivery settings.   Many advocates believe that supine (face-up) floor restraint poses much the same danger. Yet only about half of the states have laws prohibiting the use of prone restraint, or restraint that inhibits breathing, on students in school.

In our public schools, students and their families must still contend with a patchwork of regulations that vary from state to state, are often vague and full of loopholes, and in some places do not exist at all. Repeated attempts to pass federal legislation creating nationwide protections against the confinement of school children in “seclusion rooms” and the use of dangerous restraints have so far been unsuccessful, but not because the issue lacked a constituency. Originally introduced in the House, a strong prevention bill passed handily in 2009 but was not introduced in the Senate; in subsequent years similar bills were introduced, but not taken up by committee.

In 2009, a coalition of the nation’s leading disability rights organizations asked the newly-elected President Obama for an executive order banning prone restraint. Seven years later, we are asking again and our case is even stronger, due in no small part to the “Restraint and Seclusion Resource Document“ produced in 2012 by the U.S. Department of Education. This lengthy document is clear and unequivocal in arguing that “… the use of restraint and seclusion can have very serious consequences, including, most tragically, death. Furthermore, there continues to be no evidence that using restraint or seclusion is effective in reducing the occurrence of the problem behaviors that frequently precipitate the use of such techniques. Schools must do everything possible to ensure all children can learn, develop, and participate in instructional programs that promote high levels of academic achievement.” (p. iii)

Surely this is a fitting time to follow the highly-praised executive order protecting juveniles in the prison system from the dangerous psychological and physiological effects of isolation with an order that will similarly prevent the use of seclusion – as well as physical restraint that inhibits breathing — on children and youth in our nation’s classrooms.   The clock is ticking on so many young lives every day we wait.

About APRAIS: The Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion (APRAIS) was established in 2004 by leading education, research and advocacy organizations with a common goal: to eliminate the use of dangerous and dehumanizing practices as a means of managing challenging behavior. Led by TASH, APRAIS seeks to end of use of unnecessary and dangerous interventions in schools, treatment programs and residential facilities.

Barb Trader
Chair of APRAIS, Executive Director of TASH

Peg Kinsell
The Family Alliance to Stop Abuse and Neglect (APRAIS Founding Member)

Pat Amos
The Family Alliance to Stop Abuse and Neglect (APRAIS Founding Member)

Barb Trader on Mississippi’s Restraint & Seclusion Policy

Barb Trader on Mississippi’s Restraint & Seclusion Policy

On October 22, 2015, TASH’s executive director, Barb Trader, joined the Mississippi Department of Education for a public testimony on its restraint and seclusion policy.

Before this year, Mississippi was one of five states that did not have a statewide policy or voluntary guidelines governing how schools use restraint and seclusion as punishment—if at all. In June of 2015, the Mississippi Department of Education drafted a restraint and seclusion policy.

On October 22nd, mothers, advocates and leaders of nonprofit organizations, such as ACLU, joined together to give input about how to strengthen the proposed policy. They suggested eliminating seclusion, or regulating the practices, as well as standardizing certified training for all schools if restraint is necessary. Barb Trader added the following:

In 1990, the nation’s leading behavioral researchers, many of which were TASH members, first called for the elimination of aversive behavioral interventions, or those which cause pain, humiliation or discomfort, because they were no longer ethically tolerable for two simple reasons:

  1. They cause pain and can be dangerous, and moreover,
  2. They do not work – in fact, they increase disruptive behavior.

Read Barb’s full testimony.

Why Restraint Prevention is the Priority

Why Restraint Prevention is the Priority

Barb Trader, TASH ED, was a featured speaker at the Crisis Prevention Institute’s (CPI) launch of their North America Restraint Reduction Network. Barb serves a dual role with TASH and as the Convener of APRAIS, the Alliance for the Prevention of Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion which TASH launched in 2004. She focused her remarks on three important principles – restraint and seclusion are dangerous practices, physically and emotionally; they can have long-term negative impact on children after just one incident; and, students, teachers and schools are safer when the emphasis is improving school culture as a means of prevention. She also cited recent research, which shows that most children restrained are under 10 years old, and that aggressive behavior of the student is RARE – and the most likely cause for staff to restrain or seclude students is for lack of compliance. In other words, the most vulnerable children are being subjected to dangerous practices for reasons that are not justifiable.

The response of school personnel to the behavior of students entrusted to them throughout the school day is critically important to healthy student development. Positive Behavioral Supports and Interventions and Trauma-Informed Practices are complimentary practices that support students to succeed in a school environment. School personnel must be prepared and supported to adopt these practices and to support students to learn in a supportive, caring environment. Conversely, restraint and seclusion are deeply traumatizing experiences for children subjected, school personnel who use them, and students who witness their use. Research shows that even one incident of trauma experienced in childhood can have a devastating impact on a child’s neurological development, ability to trust, and healthy development. A child’s experience of trauma is often not known or recognized. Adults in contact with children must develop trauma-informed practices to ensure that child survivors of trauma are not re-traumatized by adult behaviors or environmental factors, and are supported to feel safe and heal.

CPI, a company which trains school personnel to create safer environments, launched the North America Restraint Reduction Network this summer at their CPI Instructor Training Institute in New Orleans on July 21, in part a response to the alarming rates of restraint and seclusion use in public schools.

Advocacy To Ensure Human Rights in Schools

Advocacy To Ensure Human Rights in Schools

Reno groupLast week, Steven Schumacher, Blanca Ocana, Brianna Hammon, and Scotty Fye of People First Nevada hosted a session at the Nevada Statewide Conference on disability issues. The session was geared towards training parents and discussing human rights issues that children with disabilities face in school, as well as how to keep these children safe from the abuses that the presenters themselves once suffered. The group also discussed: how to find the “scream rooms” in your community; a six step approach to getting the attention of people who can help change a child’s school situation; and positive alternatives to seclusion, abusive restraint practices, and generic behavior approaches in school. Audience members came from all over, including a DD Council member from the Virgin Islands!

TASH Releases Position Statement on Cameras in Schools

TASH Releases Position Statement on Cameras in Schools

TASH has been at the forefront of ending restraint and seclusion in our nation’s schools for many years. So, why not support the use of cameras in classrooms? TASH believes that placing cameras in classrooms could lead to new and more entrenched types of discrimination and abuse. In late January, TASH released a new position statement, Will Cameras in Classrooms Make Schools Safer?, urging caution and describing the unexplored dangers of having video cameras in schools.

The New Face of Punishment in the Public Schools

The New Face of Punishment in the Public Schools

Noted conservative attorney and activist, John Whitehead, shares his perspective on restraint and seclusion in school districts across the country in his editorial, “Handcuffs, Leg Shackles and Tasers: The New Face of Punishment in the Public Schools.”  Whitehead’s testament proves that opposition to these dangerous practices comes from both sides of the political spectrum.

In this article, Whitehead describes the dangers of restraint and seclusion. With schools who implement Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) still as the minority,  children who act out are more likely to become victims of restraint and seclusion.  Whitehead expresses similarities between our nation’s schools and the American police state.

“Clearly, the pathology that characterizes the American police state has passed down to the schools,” says Whitehead.  “Now in addition to the government and its agents viewing the citizenry as suspects to be probed, poked, pinched, tasered, searched, seized, stripped and generally manhandled, all with the general blessing of the court, our children in the public schools are also fair game.”

Click here, to read the full article.

TASH Model State Bill on Restraint & Seclusion

TASH Model State Bill on Restraint & Seclusion

TASH has led the fight against the use of aversive behavioral interventions for many years. Last year, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights data collection reported that restraint and seclusion use is climbing in public schools. Use is disproportionate: 75% of all incidents involve students with disabilities, and children of color with and without disabilities are twice as likely to be targeted compared to other students. Research tells us that restraint and seclusion serves no benefit, and is traumatic and dangerous for children and for staff.

Last year, the Keeping All Students Safe Act in the House and Senate generated 70 co-sponsors total, but did not pass. Less than half of the states have enforceable protections against the non-emergency use of restraint and seclusion for all children. To respond to this lack of protections in states, TASH and our partner organizations (COPAA, NDRN and other members of APRAIS) drafted this model state bill.  View key components of the model state bill.

Most state legislatures are now in session. If your state does not have meaningful and enforceable protections in place for students (assess your state here), please consider working with other advocates in your state to introduce this bill and work toward its passage.

More information, including a compelling video of restraint and seclusion stories, research articles, position papers, and parent resources, can be found at http://stophurtingkids.com.