Students with Disabilities, of Color Harmfully Restrained at Alarming Rates

Posted on

December 7, 2020

Edie Surtees, Communications Director, 512-407-2739, esurtees@drtx.org
Dustin Rynders, Supervising Attorney, 832-681-8205, drynders@drtx.org

New Report on Restraint Use in Texas Schools Calls for Reforms to Protect Texas Children

AUSTIN—A new report released today by Disability Rights Texas provides alarming evidence that despite years of federal guidance, training, and advocacy, the use of restraints in public schools as a behavioral intervention measure is still overused, harmful, and must be stopped.

Students with disabilities are at the most risk. They represent nearly 10% of the state’s school population, but they experienced 91% of restraints in Texas public schools during the 2018-19 school year. Additionally, black students make up 12.6% of the state’s student population yet they experience 26.1% of the total number of restraints.

The report details the harmful effects of restraints and argues that restraints are underreported in many school districts. Texas districts suspected of the most underreporting as well as those that have the highest rate of restraints are included.

The report offers the following recommendations for reform in Texas:

  • Ban prone and supine restraints.
  • Remove regulatory allowance for restraint for property damage.
  • Require competency-based de-escalation training for all school personnel who interact with students as a method to avoid the overuse of restraints on students with disabilities as a behavior management technique.
  • Ensure that school personnel working in behavior classrooms and campuses, including those who assist with transportation to and from those campuses, receive competency and evidence-based, best practice de-escalation and restraint training.
  • Implement annual de-escalation and restraint training requirements for personnel outlined above and in current regulation.
  • Expand state data validation to ensure proper restraint reporting by local educational agencies.
  • Incorporate a new monitoring indicator in the Results Driven Accountability System utilized by the state to identify local educational agencies that overuse restraint against all students or disproportionately restrain certain student groups to require schools develop corrective action plans for improvement.

The report also claims that regulations adopted by the Texas Education Agency fall short of ensuring that the inappropriate and harmful use of restraints do not disproportionately affect students with disabilities, including those served in separate behavior classrooms and campuses.

“This excessive use of restraints in Texas public schools inflicts physical and emotional trauma on children with disabilities,” said Dustin Rynders, Supervising Attorney for the Education Team at Disability Rights Texas. “School personnel have access to and should use less intrusive and more productive behavioral supports to de-escalate student conflicts.”

Though the report reveals concerning patterns of school staff’s and personnel’s planning for and reactions to common disability-related behaviors in various school settings, legislators, TEA, administrators, and instructors are poised to address these issues in statute, regulation, and school programming.

Read the full report or see the attachment below.

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Disability Rights Texas (previously named Advocacy Inc.) is the federally designated legal protection and advocacy agency (P&A) for people with disabilities in Texas established in 1977. Its mission is to help people with disabilities understand and exercise their rights under the law, ensuring their full and equal participation in society. Visit www.DRTx.org for more information.

Attached documents