It is with great disappointment that I notify our SEPTA members and the greater community that the Superintendent’s Special Education Task Force, examining the use and alternatives to restraint and seclusion, has been suspended indefinitely. Superintendent Scott Braband sent an email to all members of the Task Force notifying us of the suspension of the Task Force on Monday, October 14, 2019.
SEPTA recognizes that restraint and seclusion remains a critical and unresolved issue. We are discussing options for continued independent examination of the use of and alternatives to restraint and seclusion. We maintain that it is critical for families to self-advocate and have their voices heard and their needs addressed. If you would like to be involved in these discussions or would like to share a personal story regarding Restraint and Seclusion, please contact me, Diane Cooper-Gould, SEPTA Liaison on Restraint and Seclusion at SpEdTaskForce@FairfaxCountySEPTA.org
The text of the letter sent to members of the Task Force is as follows:
Dear Task Force Member,
On Tuesday, October 8, several individuals and organizations filed a lawsuit against the School Board, styled Q.T, et al. v. School Board of Fairfax County, et al. That lawsuit claims that the School Board violated federal and state law in the use of restraint and/or seclusion. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages and attorneys’ fees against the School Board. The lawsuit also contends that the Task Force on which you are serving is “nothing more than a public relations ploy, if not an acknowledgment and admission of misconduct.” Comp. ¶ 18.
The school system disagrees with those contentions, but the plaintiffs will be pursuing those claims in the litigation. In their communications with us, the plaintiffs’ lawyers have also demanded that the Task Force “preserve all communications” and have indicated that they may subpoena those records as part of the litigation.
Accordingly, please preserve and maintain all paper records and all electronic records relating to the work of the Task Force, including all email communications, text messages, correspondence, or notes relating to the Task Force. Please do not delete or destroy any of those records, which may be subject to a forthcoming document subpoena. Any such document subpoena will provide further instructions on what you must do to comply.
In light of this active litigation and the allegations in the complaint specifically about the Task Force, FCPS staff have been directed to suspend their work with the Task Force. We had hoped that the Task Force could continue its work and that, instead of filing suit, the plaintiffs would accept our invitation to participate and address restraint and seclusion issues in FCPS. We regret that the plaintiffs have instead chosen the path of litigation.
I greatly appreciate the time and attention you have devoted to the Task Force and am grateful for your service. I am hopeful that, once the litigation is resolved, the Task Force will resume its work.
Superintendent Scott Brabrand
Thank you for your continued support,
Co-Chair SEPTA Advocacy Committee
Liaison to the Task Force