Colorado P&A Calls for Changes in Restraint and Seclusion Policy

desks and chalkboard in a classroom

by Andy Jones
November 22, 2016

Disability Law Colorado is calling on the state of Colorado to enact reforms in the upcoming legislative session to do more to protect students with disabilities from dangerous restraint and seclusion techniques.

“As a result of our training efforts and data collection, DLC has determined that, when it comes to restraints in schools, school district staff need more training, increased resources, and clearly defined guidelines on engaging in and reporting restraints,” the DLC wrote in a news release. “We have also determined that parents and advocates need better options than simply going to federal court to enforce their children’s rights in school.  

“Though we are happy to be a part of the solution and will continue to conduct investigations, present trainings, and provide advocacy on behalf of students, this issue affects all 900,000 students in Colorado public schools. The enormity of the situation simply requires a broader solution. “ 

Since 2012, DLC has investigated 85 complaints of restraint and seclusion against students with disabilities and compiled data on 122 school districts. It has also conducted 25 training sessions for more than 300 educators and 75 parents and advocates.

In September, it released an extensive report, titled “What's Holding Our Student's Down?,” documenting its findings.

Building on the state’s prior bans on chemical and mechanical restraints, DLC is calling for a state-wide ban on prone, face-down, restraints, which are already banned in state day treatment and residential and mental health facilities. Although state regulations ban restraints that restrict a student’s breathing, DLC argues prone restraints pose an unnecessary threat of such a risk.

DLC also is demanding clarifying guidance on the school district’s data collection efforts, which they are currently not required to provide to a state agency.

Finally, DLC is seeking the creation of another avenue, short of federal litigation, for parents to bring complaints regarding restraint and seclusion against school districts, such as through a state grievance procedure.

Go here to read "What's Holding Our Students Down?" [PDF].

Disability Rights Washington and Disability Law Colorado are designated protection and advocacy agencies in Washington and Colorado, respectively, and are members of the National Disability Rights Network.