In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the use of restraint and seclusion. Many posts have mentioned these techniques, both in schools and facilities for people with disabilities.
For years, Fairfax County Public Schools reported to the federal government that not a single student was physically restrained or trapped in an isolating space.
But documents obtained by WAMU reveal hundreds of cases where children, some as young as 6 years old, were restrained or put in seclusion multiple times. In some cases, a single child was confined to a room almost 100 times in a school year.
Fairfax County guidelines say this technique is used as a last resort — if a student is considered a danger to themselves or others. But parents of students who were repeatedly secluded or restrained say they felt that school officials used these methods as a first response.
When asked why Fairfax school officials reported zero cases in 2009, 2013 and 2015, despite documentation showing otherwise, a spokesperson replied there was no requirement for the district to report the data to the state. Fairfax County Public Schools also said there was “internal miscommunication about data reported to [Office of Civil Rights] which has been corrected” and “data that was being reported had not been properly reviewed,” in a statement after repeated inquiries from WAMU.