In Lawsuit, Parents Allege County Schools Improperly Secluded, Restrained Students

Parents and disability rights groups are suing Fairfax County Public Schools for allegedly improperly secluding and restraining students with disabilities, according to a report by the Washington Post.

The lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, alleges that the school system used practices to “silence, detain, segregate and punish students with disabilities,” according to the complaint.

One of the parents suing the school system — Jennifer Tidd — lives in Reston. Her 12-year-old son attended Kilmer Center, a public special education school operated by the county in Vienna.

“Tidd’s son was secluded on at least 745 occasions and excluded from class several hundred more times over seven years, according to court papers,” the Washington Post reported.

The Fairfax County Public School system told the following to the post:

The parents, Jennifer Tidd, Pamela Ononiwu and Ashley Thomas, are accusing the 189,000-student school system of using the practices to “silence, detain, segregate, and punish students with disabilities,” according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Fairfax school officials said they have completed a thorough and independent review of seclusion and restraint guidelines, and added staff, increased training and appointed an ombudsman for special education. The school system also created a task force to look at best practices for restraint and seclusion. The parents who filed the lawsuit lambasted that task force as a “public relations ploy.”

 “We acknowledge that the use of restraint and seclusion is an especially sensitive and challenging issue and is appropriate only when less restrictive alternatives fail,” Superintendent Scott Brabrand said in statement released late Tuesday. “We will continue to base our procedures and practices on that guiding principle.”

A March investigation by WAMU found that some Fairfax County schools isolated or restrained students and failed to report the incidents to the federal government. The investigation featured the stories of parents whose children were restrained at Armstrong Elementary in Reston and other area schools.

File photo

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