Report: Restraint, Seclusion Increasing In Maine Schools

May 14, 2019

Maine students are placed in seclusion and restraints at a rate four to eleven times higher than the national average. Those figures come from a report released by Disability Rights Maine on Monday, ahead of a public hearing on a bill to ensure schools adhere to state rules restricting the practice.

According to the report, the use of restraints and seclusion on Maine students has nearly doubled since 2014, jumping from 12,000 incidents to more than 20,000. Disability Rights Maine attorney Atlee Reilly told the Legislature’s Education Committee that students with disabilities are disproportionately affected.

“A majority of the restraints in Maine take place at special purpose private schools that only serve children with disabilities,” he said. “We’re looking at half a percent of the student population and 55 percent of the restraints and seclusions. None of this is acceptable.”

Reilly spoke in support of a bill to ensure schools follow state rules requiring seclusion and restraints be used only in emergency situations. He urged lawmakers to go even further and place an outright ban on seclusion.

But Jill Adams of the Maine Administrators of Services for Children with Disabilities said the bill fails to address the root of the problem.

“The need for professional development for all personnel on evidence-based behavioral intervention,” she said.

The Maine Department of Education also testified against the bill, saying it was redundant, even though officials expressed concern about excessive use of restraints and seclusion.

Specific examples cited in the Disability Rights Maine report include a 7-year-old who was restrained 34 times in the span of 42 school days. In another case, an 11-year-old was restrained and secluded 91 times over the course of a school year.

Originally published May 13, 2019 at 5:13 p.m. ET.