Behind the Numbers
Investigative Series By VPM & WHRV
The use of seclusion and restraint of students has come under scrutiny by states and the federal government following reports of injuries, emotional trauma and even death. According to Virginia code, seclusion is defined as the involuntary confinement of a student in a room from which they’re prevented from leaving, and restraint is holding a student to restrict movement.
In Virginia, the practices are legal. Some families and educators say the procedures are necessary to protect students and staff. Other parents and advocates say the methods are sometimes misused. For decades, many states including Virginia lacked regulations about when and how these procedures should be implemented.
In two recent school years, Virginia private schools serving students with disabilities reported nearly 10,000 total seclusions and more than 18,000 total restraints. In this four-part series by VPM and WHRV, we look into the two schools that reported the highest numbers of seclusions and restraints over the combined 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years. We also examine Virginia’s policies and standards for data collection and staff training, as well as alternatives to seclusion and restraint developed by local educators.
As the state works on regulations to improve standards and documentation of these practices, some groups have developed alternatives that are catching on here and in other states.
Faison Plans Changes Following VPM Investigation Into Staff Concerns About Student Seclusion Use, ReportingFollowing the broadcast and publication of a series about the use of seclusion and restraint in private day schools serving students with disabilities, VPM News has learned some changes are being made at a Richmond-based private school to address staff concerns.
For the past decade, Virginia’s Department of Education has been working on regulations for the practices. However, there isn’t an effort to standardize training for teachers and staff who use these methods.
Chesapeake School Reported Significant Jump in Restraints; School Attributes Majority to One StudentOne private Virginia school had a big jump in the number of restraints used on students from one school year to the next. But the numbers only tell part of the story.
Richmond Private School Reported the Highest Number of Seclusions; Staff Say They’re Not Sure When to Record ThemSeclusion is confinement of a student alone in a room, and restraint is holding a student to restrict movement. In Virginia, the practices are legal. Some parents and educators say the procedures are necessary to protect students and staff.
The use of seclusion and restraint in schools has come under scrutiny in recent years by states and the federal government following reports of injuries,…