WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today that the U.S. Department of Education will launch an initiative to address the possible inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion in our nation’s schools. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR), in partnership with the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), will oversee this proactive approach which will protect students with disabilities by providing technical assistance and support to schools, districts, and state education agencies, and strengthen enforcement activities.
“This initiative will not only allow us to support children with disabilities, but will also provide technical assistance to help meet the professional learning needs of those within the system serving students,” Secretary DeVos said. “The only way to ensure the success of all children with disabilities is to meet the needs of each child with a disability. This initiative furthers that important mission.”
The Department’s Initiative to Address the Inappropriate Use of Restraint and Seclusion will not only include components that help schools and districts understand how federal law applies to the use of restraint and seclusion, but the Department will also support schools seeking resources and information on the appropriate use of interventions and supports to address the behavioral needs of students with disabilities.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) today issued guidance in the form of a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) that emphasizes the requirement that schools provide positive behavioral supports to students with disabilities who need them. It also clarifies that the repeated use of disciplinary actions may suggest that children with disabilities may not be receiving appropriate behavioral interventions and supports. When schools fail to consider and provide for needed behavioral supports through the Individualized Education Program (IEP), it is likely to result in children not receiving the free appropriate public education to which they are entitled under federal law.
“All students, including those with disabilities, should have the supports and equitable educational opportunities they need to be successful in school,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “It’s our duty as parents and educators to ensure that children who show up at school to learn get the maximum out of their educational experience. This guidance will help schools create a safe, supportive learning environment for those students who need additional behavioral supports and services to help them thrive.”