The National Disability Rights Network’s 2009 report “School Is Not Supposed To Hurt” on the improper use of restraints and seclusion prompted a flurry of activity in Washington, including attention from Education Secretary Arne Duncan. (Former Sen. Chris Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut, and Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, backed a bill that would have restricted restraint and seclusion in some circumstances, but the measure died last year.)
A follow-up report from NDRN noted that the Department of Education and the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration would be collaborating on a document that would provide guidance to schools and districts. According to the report:
...That brief makes recommendations about how the lessons learned in mental health settings to prevent and reduce restraint and seclusion can be effectively applied to schools. This issue brief is still in clearance at the U.S. Department of Education. NDRN hopes that the brief will be published in the near future so that schools can continue to apply and adapt strategies that have been successful in mental health settings to schools.
The fruits of that collaboration, however, seem to have disappeared into Washington’s vast bureaucracy. But SAMHSA has developed its free resource that it says is appropriate for an education audience. Called “Leaving the Door Open,” the video offers alternatives to restraints and seclusion. SAMHSA also has a downloadable training manual on eliminating restraints and seclusion, geared to professional care providers.
A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.