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Ohio Releases Statistics on Use of Restraint and Seclusion

More than a third of Ohio schools physically restrained a student in the 2013-14 school year, and more than a quarter of those cases took place in the 50,000-student Columbus district, according to statistics released for the first time from the Ohio Department of Education. 

Columbus, the largest district in the state, accounted for 2,188 of the 7,127 occurrences catalogued so far for the last school year. Districts are still reporting numbers to the state.

The Columbus Dispatch explored the statistics in an Oct. 6 article. It noted that the state board of education passed rules last year that prohibited restraint and seclusion from being used as a punishment for students, or as a convenience for school staff members. The new rules also required districts to catalog and report data on the use of restraint and seclusion. 

From the story: 

Seclusion rooms, under the new rules, are to be used only when a child poses an imminent physical threat. Some advocates for those with special needs pushed for Ohio to ban seclusion and restraint in schools, saying it isn't necessary to lay hands on a student if staff members are well-trained in using other interventions.

"To have such young children in such high numbers being restrained and secluded really raises questions about whether people really understand what positive interventions are," said Michael Kirkman, executive director of Disability Rights Ohio, a federally designated legal advocate for Ohioans with disabilities. "Everybody should care about it—it could happen to your kid."

The article also noted that Columbus has two schools that serve students with severe behavioral and emotional disorders. Cleveland, the state's next-largest district, has not yet reported its restraint and seclusion statistics.

A recent data collection from the U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights found that students with disabilities represent 12 percent of public school students, but 75 percent of those physically restrained in school and 58 percent of those placed in secluded environments while at schools. 

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