Jane Meredith Adams, John C. Osborn
April 19, 2015


EdSource Today’s investigative report into a “behavioral emergency” system found a consistent increase in the use of this type of discipline against students with disabilities. Interest groups worked to repeal most of the Hughes Bill policies that allowed for collection of data about these “behavioral emergencies” and legislators ended data collection in 2013.

“We have lost the data,” said Leslie Morrison, Director of Investigations at Disability Rights California. The data had relied on school staff to fill out the forms, so “[t]he numbers are a gross underreporting,” says Morrison. In 2011-2012, Los Angeles Unified School District filed just 103 behavioral emergency reports for 82,000 special education students, compared to San Francisco Unified School District’s 1,253 behavioral emergency reports for 6,700 special education students.

In addition, according to the “Failing Grade” report, the California Department of Education wasn’t telling the regional agencies to send in their data until 2006, when the state instructed the agencies to do so. “There was no oversight or enforcement by the CDE regarding this critical data element,” Morrison said.

At Mt. Diablo Unified School District’s Sunrise Elementary School, more than 300 behavioral emergency reports using restraints were filed in 2013-14 for 45 students attending the special education and mental health program. Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund filed a complaint for students who were subjected to restraints.

Mt. Diablo Unified staff failed to follow up after behavior emergency restraint took place: they failed to include the education team to weigh a change in the behavior plan; failed to use limit the time of restraint; failed to use less restrictive measures for repeated behavior that could have been controlled without the use of restraint; and failed to notify their guardians when a restraint took place.

Little oversight of restraint practices in special education
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Organizations mentioned/involved: Disability Rights California (DRC), Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)