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Year in Review: A Safe Educational Environment

A good education is key to every child’s future—and children with disabilities are no different. Disability Rights Wisconsin has worked hard in 2016 to ensure that children with disabilities have a safe educational environment in which to learn and grow.

In February of this year, we co-published a report based on open records requests to special education directors statewide that shows we still have miles to go on the issue of seclusion and restraint practices used in public schools. Sadly, even with the 2012 passage of Wisconsin Act 125, which established regulations on public schools’ use of seclusion and restraint, our 2016 report details how families continue to report instances in which children are being secluded and restrained repeatedly, sometimes daily—and that 80% of these instances involve students with disabilities.

In concert with partner agencies, Disability Rights Wisconsin held a press conference at the state Capitol to highlight the pervasive use of seclusion and restraint on children with disabilities in our schools. We advocated and intervened on behalf of individual children to develop Individualized Education Plans and Positive Behavior Supports with their schools. And we’ve made specific recommendations on updating the state’s seclusion and restraint law in several areas, including statewide reporting, enhancing parent reporting requirements, and including law enforcement officers as “covered individuals” under the law.

We will continue requesting and monitoring seclusion and restraint data in 2017 and beyond, and holding Wisconsin schools accountable to the letter of the law. But we can’t do it alone.

Join us in our work to give all our children a safe educational environment. With your year-end gift to our “Off to a Good Start” campaign, you will become a member of our Protection and Advocacy Team, and help us continue our legislative and advocacy work in 2017.