In the 2013-14 school year, Virginia public school students were strapped into chairs, physically restrained, or put into seclusion more than 6,000 times, according to the Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection.
That compares, reports Staunton’s News Leader, to the following national figures from the same data source:
During the 2015–16 school year, the nation’s public school students were physically restrained, mechanically restrained or secluded 122,000 times. In nearly 86,000 of those instances, students were subjected to physical or mechanical restraint, and in 36,000 were subjected to seclusion, according to the data collection.
Virginia accounts for 2.6% of the national population. Assuming that the Old Dominion accounts for a comparable percentage of its school population, one would expect about 3,172 incidents of physical restraint. Thus, the News Leader data suggests that Virginia schools are more likely to resort to physical restraints than schools in other states.
Policies have evolved since the 2013-14 year upon which the Virginia data is based. School officials told the News Leader that the Staunton, Waynesboro and Augusta County school systems have not used physical restraints in the last five years. Thirty-six school systems in Virginia use the so-called Mandt System, which trains school personnel to de-escalate situations and limit physical contact between staff and students.
Virginia schools have been criticized for the high rate at which they summon police to arrest students and for the high rate at which they suspend students, primarily on the grounds that African-American students are disproportionately impacted. The use of physical restraints has come under scrutiny since revelations of the practice used with unaccompanied minor children living illegally in the United States held at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center.
In other school disciplinary news… the Wall Street Journal reports on what school systems are doing to combat the increasing rate of student absenteeism.
About 16% of students, or nearly 8 million, were considered chronically absent for missing at least 15 days for any reason in the 2015-16 school year, the latest available data from the U.S. Education Department shows. That’s up 12% from about 7 million in 2013-14, while the student population rose only 1.1% over that period. Some education officials say an upward trend continues in their states.
D.C. and Maryland had the highest percentages of students considered chronically absent, at about 31% and 29%, respectively. North Dakota had the lowest rate at 9.5%.