Va. education dept. seeks input on seclusion and restraint of children in schools

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CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Department of Education will hold a public hearing on a controversial kind of discipline in public schools next month in Richmond, and seek public comment beginning next week.

It’s known as seclusion and restraint. Seclusion is placing a child in an isolated room. Restraint is the use of physical holds, or in some cases straps or belts, to control behavior.

Seclusion and restraint is often used for children with special needs. Parents have told 10 On Your Side they can understand restraint in some cases, especially once children become a danger to themselves or others. It’s the seclusion they say that can cause both psychological and physical harm.

Recent cases we’ve covered included a first-grader in Virgnia Beach schools who was carried through the halls and put in a room, away from the rest of his class.

A family in Chesapeake schools settled with that district after their special needs child was restrained in a chair that was supposed to be used for kids with body control issues.

Another family moved to another state after their son’s hand was badly injured trying to resist being put in a seclusion room.

VDOE has held public hearings in the past on developing regulations that would limit the use of seclusion and restraint in Virginia schools.

The latest public comment period begins Monday, February 18, and runs through April 19. The VDOE will also hold a public hearing in Richmond on March 21, following its board meeting.

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