Maine schools restrained and secluded students more than 20,000 times in the 2017-18 school year, according to data compiled by Disability Rights Maine. However, the real number may be much higher, said Ben Jones, an attorney with the statewide legal advocacy group.
Each summer, under state Department of Education regulations, all schools are expected to report how many times they restrained and secluded students in the past school year, as well as the number of students school staff members restrained and secluded.
The map below offers a district-by-district view on the use of restraints and seclusion in Maine schools.
The data the schools report represent the most comprehensive information available on the use of restraints and seclusion in Maine schools.
However, the data have shortcomings. For example, some of Maine’s largest school districts — the Portland and Lewiston school departments — did not report their restraint and seclusion numbers for the 2017-18 school year.
In addition, some schools do not report any use restraints and seclusion even though they make use of the practices, as parents told the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee on Monday at a public hearing for a bill would require schools to accurately report their restraint and seclusion numbers through annual reports to the Maine Department of Education.
Disability Rights Maine compiled the most comprehensive dataset available for 2017-18 by requesting data from the Department of Education for schools not included in the restraint and seclusion data the department had published on its website. The Bangor Daily News added enrollment data from a separate Department of Education spreadsheet to come up with the basis of this map.
The map shows the number of restraints and seclusion incidents in each school district, as well as the average number of incidents per student.
The yellow points on the map represent schools where the number of restraints and seclusions works out to at least one incident for every 10 students enrolled.
The red points represent schools where the restraint and seclusion rate is at least one per student. Dark red points show schools where the number of incidents works out to 10 or more per student.
From the data, it is evident that special purpose private schools and day treatment programs use these practices far more often than mainstream public school districts, which means special-education students are restrained and secluded most often.