Madison, WI – A new report issued today by Disability Rights Wisconsin, Wisconsin Family Ties, and WI FACETS, offers the first statewide look at seclusion and restraint data in Wisconsin’s public schools. The report, called Seclusion & Restraint in Wisconsin Public School Districts: 2012-2013 School Year Data, is based on open records requests to special education directors statewide, collecting the data they were required to report to their school boards last fall in the wake of the 2012 passage of Wisconsin Act 125, which established crucial regulations on public-school use of seclusion and restraint. The results provide a baseline of information about current statewide use of seclusion and restraint of students and, more specifically, students with disabilities, who according to the report accounted for a disproportionate 74% of seclusion and restraint incidents in 2012-13.
The three organizations have for years helped amplify the voices of families whose students had suffered emotional and physical injury due to seclusion and restraint, highlighting the need for change that led to the passage of Act 125. The law limits the use of seclusion and restraint to situations in which there is an immediate risk to physical safety, and the intervention is the least restrictive one possible. The first year of data demonstrates, however, that interpretation and implementation is uneven across school districts.