New York finds special education students often physically restrained

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2023 | Education Law |

Being a special education teacher can be difficult. Some students have behavioral issues that make them lash out, possibly hurting themselves or others. For this reason, New York allows special education facilities to use restraints or put students in padded rooms, but only in emergency situations.

However, a recent investigation found many instances in which New York school staff used the techniques inappropriately, and did so deliberately. The study, by the State Education Department and a state agency called the Justice Center for People With Special Needs, found 214 such incidents between 2016 and 2021.

The agency considers inappropriate use of restraints and so-called time-out rooms to be abusive. Advocates for people with special needs say that many children are psychologically or physically harmed by this type of restraint.

Advocates for students with special needs say the number in the report, while shocking, is almost certainly much lower than the actual number of such incidents. The numbers in the report relied on self-reported data from the schools, and advocates suggest that school staff do not report many such incidents.

For parents

One thing that’s harder than being a special education teacher is being a parent of a child with special needs.

A special education program gives these children an opportunity to learn and develop, and it gives parents much-needed help. But parents need to be able to trust that the school will be able to take care of their child effectively and appropriately. Often, this means parents need to work hard for what’s in the best interests of their child at school.

For this, they may need the help of attorneys with experience in education law.