Seclusion & Restraint Investigations


Student Neglect at Fairbanks Schools

June 8, 2016

Fairbanks, AK – The Disability Law Center (DLC) initiated an abuse and neglect investigation following a complaint alleging a six year old student who experiences Autism was frequently and inappropriately being restrained and placed in seclusion. The school where this allegedly took place is the Denali Elementary School, which is part of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District (FNSBSD). In response to the use of restraint and seclusion at Denali Elementary, the student’s parent transferred him to Woodriver Elementary School. Shortly after the transfer took place, DLC received a complaint alleging the same student was being inappropriately restrained and placed in seclusion at his new school, Woodriver Elementary. Through its investigation, DLC was able to substantiate the allegations and made a finding that neglect had occurred, largely because of problems with assessments, data collection and the development of appropriate interventions; the lack of an internal review process; and the District’s failure to follow State guidelines. The following report details DLC’s investigation, findings and recommendations. Click here to see the full report. Exhibit A. Exhibit B.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, through its counsel, responded to DLC’s report and disputed DLC’s findings. Click here to see FNSBSD’s response. DLC replied to the District’s response. Click here to see DLC’s reply.

Inappropriate Use of Restraint and Seclusion at Mt. Iliamna Elementary School

September 3, 2013

The Disability Law Center uncovered the inappropriate systemic use of restraint and seclusion at Mt. Iliamna Elementary School. During the 2012-2013 school year, the approximately 60 students at the school were placed in the safe room over 850 times. The educational time lost for these students totaled 42 school days, even though many of these students require specialized instruction in academic areas such as reading, writing and math.

DLC found that the pervasive use of restraint and seclusion was more the result of inappropriate behavior plans and staff responses than a result of problematic behaviors on the part of the students that could only be managed by these restrictive interventions. DLC made extensive recommendations to the District that it hopes are adopted as soon as possible to ensure that these students receive appropriate educational services in a safe and supportive environment and that the systemic reliance on and use of restraint and seclusion as was the case last year is discontinued at once.

The District’s response follows the report. DLC disagrees that the problems cited in the report have been resolved. See the full report here, and the district response here.

UPDATE, February 27, 2014
On January 16th 2014, the District provided a more comprehensive response to DLC’s report. See the District’s January response here.

A note to the reader -- Within the District’s response is the copy of a transcript between DLC’s investigator and District staff. For reasons unknown to DLC the transcription provided by the District does not include the first portion of that interview.

UPDATE:  April 18, 2014
On April 10th, 20114, we submitted reply to the Anchorage School District's response.  See DLC's reply here.

DLC Investigation Finds Inappropriate Use of Restraint and Seclusion for Student with Disability at Anchorage School

December 2012

ALASKA - The Disability Law Center investigation reveals that a student with ADHD was inappropriately placed in seclusion - a room by himself outside of the learning environment - sometimes as soon as he arrived at school. The following report details DLC's investigation, findings and recommendations. Click here to see the full report.

Investigation Uncovers Widespread Use of Seclusion in Two Anchorage Elementary Schools

January 26, 2012

ALASKA - The Disability Law Center initiated an investigation after receiving a complaint that a student with disabilities was placed in seclusion while at school for behaviors related to his disability. DLC’s investigation uncovered systemic use of seclusion in Anchorage schools and differing definitions of what constitutes seclusion among staff members and administrators. The following report details DLC’s investigation and findings and the District’s actions as a result of the investigation.   Click here for the full report.