When schools use force

A yearlong investigation by Hearst Newspapers examines the controversial use of restraint and seclusion in schools nationwide
CT Insider

With scant oversight, schools routinely physically restrain students or confine them alone in small rooms. Parents don’t always know. Abuses and discrimination occur. Children are traumatized, injured, even die.

 

National
Controversial and often used, these little-known practices cause harm, even death, among U.S. schoolchildren

A still image from surveillance video footage of Cornelius Frederick, 16, being restrained at a youth residential facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2020. Frederick died two days later.

Fieger, Kenney & Harrington, P.C. and Marko Law PLLC
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National
The U.S. regulates how hospitals can use restraint and seclusion. Why not schools?

The US Capitol is seen in Washington on January 24, 2011, one day before President Barack delivers his State of the Union speech. Obama faced a US public hungry for jobs and Republicans eager to oust him in 2012 as he readied his yearly State of the Union speech in a tense new era of power-sharing. Obama steps up at 9:00 pm Tuesday (0200 GMT Wednesday) to address a joint session of Congress and a television audience in the tens of millions -- his highest profile shot at defining his reinvigorated, retooled presidency. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP/Getty Images
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National
How some schools have stopped using restraint and seclusion

Staff members in Milcreek Township in Pennsylvania receive de-escalation training ahead of the 2022-23 school year. The school district is one of a growing number nationwide to adopt alternative models designed to reduce the risk of restraint and seclusion.

LiAnna Schwerer/Milcreek Township School District
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National
‘He didn’t deserve that’: The stories of 13 children, young adults who died after restraint or seclusion

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Ebonie Baltimore, Fieger, Kenney & Harrington, P.C. And Marko Law PLLC, Paul Buckowski/Times Union, Court records
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Connecticut
CT students restrained, secluded thousands of times causing dozens of injuries: ‘Something is not working’

A seclusion room in a Connecticut school.

Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate
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New York
Teachers and police restrained thousands of kids in 22 New York schools

Jonathan Moore, 12, who is autistic and non-verbal, types on his tablet which he uses to communicate on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, in Malta, N.Y. (Will Waldron/Times Union)

Jonathan Moore, 12, types on his tablet, which he uses to communicate.

Will Waldron/Times Union
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New York
Some New York schools confine students in 'time out rooms' for hours

A time out room at Jackson Heights Elementary School in Glens Falls, N.Y. in 2022.

A time out room at Jackson Heights Elementary School in Glens Falls, N.Y. in 2022.

Paul Buckowski/Times Union
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Texas
‘I hurt’: Texas special education students face interventions that can be deadly

Generic classroom.

Getty Images
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National
A state-by-state look at laws, practices, and data collection

Data table embed 

Rahul Mukherjee
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National
How we reported our project on restraint and seclusion in U.S. schools

An excerpt from a report documenting an incident in September 2018 in which a 10-year-old child was held by educators in a prone restraint for 10 minutes at Sullivan BOCES.

Sullivan BOCES
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National
Restraint and seclusion in schools: What would you change?

A special education classroom at Jackson Heights Elementary School in Glens Falls, N.Y. in 2022.

Paul Buckowski/Times Union
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Follow-up
'Unacceptable': lawmakers pursue reforms around restraint and seclusion in schools

Senator Shelley Mayer on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019 at the Legislative Office Building in Albany, NY. (Phoebe Sheehan/Times Union)

Phoebe Sheehan/Albany Times Union
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About this series

A year-long national investigation by Hearst Newspapers provides the most comprehensive look to-date at how often restraint and seclusion are used in America's schools - and how often children are harmed or die as a result. This series uncovers and highlights systemic abuses and problems, from discriminatory practices to major gaps in oversight. Journalists scrutinized years of patchy federal data on restraint and seclusion, conducted an unprecedented effort to gather records from all 50 state education agencies and obtained tens of thousands of pages of school district documents. Reporters scoured news articles, court records, government reports and other sources, studied laws in all 50 states, spoke to researchers and policy makers and interviewed more than 70 parents, students, teachers and school administrators.


Components of this investigation were supported with funding from the Data-Driven Reporting Project. The funding was used to pay for software and support to analyze handwritten documents and some freelance photography. The Data-Driven Reporting Project is funded by the Google News Initiative in partnership with Northwestern University | Medill and awards funds to investigative journalists working for local news outlets and outlets serving underrepresented communities across the U.S. and Canada.

If you have tips, documents, or other information that you would like to share with a reporter, please contact: Emilie Munson at emilie.munson@timesunion.com or on Twitter: @emiliemunson; or Matt Rocheleau at 508-265-2050, matt.rocheleau@hearstmediact.com or on Twitter: @mrochele.

If you would like to share information anonymously, please indicate that when you contact us. For additional security, use encrypted methods. Signal: 347-541-8115, or securenewstips@protonmail.com


Credits

REPORTING
Emilie Munson
Alex Putterman
Libby Seline
Taylor Johnston
Ying Zhao
Currie Engel
Mary Katherine Wildeman

REPORTING & EDITING
Matt Rocheleau
Alexandra Kanik

EDITING
Brendan Lyons
John Ferraro
Casey Seiler
Wendy Metcalfe

COPY EDITING
Linda Levinson
Michael Levine
Lisa Robert Lewis

DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT & GRAPHICS
Rahul Mukherjee
Danielle Rindler
Alejandra Matos
Brittany Schell
David Deloso
Christian Leonard
Evan Wagstaff
Taylor Johnston
Alexandra Harris
Bryan Haeffele
Sue Nusbaum

AUDIENCE STRATEGY
Mandy Hofmockel
Erica Smith
Lori Todd
Katie Vogel
Lindsay Boyle
Mike DeSalvo
Derek Turner
Kristina Vakhman
Martha Shanahan

PHOTOGRAPHY
Lori Van Buren
Paul Buckowski
Will Waldron
Tyler Sizemore

TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
Jeff Bustraan
Ian Murren
Chris Preovolos