Advocacy restraint and seclusion School Board Work Session Documents

SEPTA Response to FCPS’ Proposed Restraint & Seclusion Policy

We call the community to act on this draft policy ASAP.  Please view the information and documents below and reach out to your school board members however you can so your voice is heard.  

SEPTA has spent many, many hours reviewing FCPS’ Proposed Policy on Restraint and Seclusion since it was published late Wednesday night, and we are extremely concerned about it on a number of fronts:

1. The policy appears to not be in compliance with State regulations on many required components, particularly through omission of required information and policy details.

2. Despite it being a state mandate in VA that the local SEAC (our Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities or ACSD) review and give feedback on all proposed policies that affect special education students, the proposed policy has not been presented at an ACSD meeting for review.

3. The policy is not in alignment with best practices and appears to discriminate against students with disabilities.

4. The public has not had a chance to speak on the matter via public forum. Since recent public speaking allotments at Regular School Board Meetings have filled within two minutes of their opening, without a Public Hearing on the matter, citizens will not have the opportunity to be heard. 

SEPTA emailed our report and supporting documents to the entire School Board, Dr. Brabrand, Dr. Ivey, Dr. Presido and Dr. Boyd this morning in advance of the work session tomorrow (Tuesday, December 1 from 1:00pm-4:00pm).

The Department of Special Services is holding a forum this evening to review the proposed policy. Members of the public are strongly encouraged to tune into the livestream beginning at 5:00pm.

We urge the School Board to ban the use of seclusion, to ban prone and supine restraints, and to strengthen parent notification requirements to mandatory same-day reporting in writing.  We urge them to require follow-up trauma-informed mental health care to staff and students after any incidences of restraint and/or seclusion, to mandate the use of best practices and to invite the public to speak on this critical issue via public forum prior to approving any policy related to restraint and seclusion.

It is critical to understand the history of how and why the crisis of Restraint and Seclusion has exploded in FCPS.  In March of 2019, WAMU broke the story of systemic and severe abuse of disabled FCPS public school students at the hands of FCPS staff misusing restraint and seclusion.  Further, FCPS was found to be repeatedly in violation of its own Guidance Document and Policies regarding restraint and seclusion. Perhaps, most stunningly, FCPS was found to have willfully lied to the federal government in its reporting of restraint and seclusion by reporting zero occurrences county-wide when in fact the county’s own DSS documents revealed hundreds of cases of restraint and seclusion had been happening annually. At the time the news hit, SEPTA surveyed FCPS families and staff, summarized the results and sent them to the School Board, Superintendent Brabrand and DSS leadership. We re-shared this information with the current school board when we sent them the documents below this morning. It is important to understand that, given this history, the public and the special education community of Fairfax County do not have faith that FCPS will act with integrity and transparency in any use of restraint or seclusion. 

Anything less than a ban on seclusion,  a ban on prone and supine restraints, and a concerted effort to replace those outdated practices with current, trauma-informed and preventative best-practices will appear to the community to reflect a lack of commitment to stopping the abuse of our neediest children at the hands of the public schools who should be protecting and serving them.

SEPTA has compiled a document detailing our specific concerns regarding the proposed policy. Included at the end of that detailed analysis is a comprehensive list of cited resources. Please also see our newly amended position on Restraint & Seclusion, updated on November 30, 2020. DOCUMENTS BELOW:

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