Father of Maryland special needs student says seclusion and restraint needs to stop

Faculty and staff in many school districts across the country are employing the controversial tactic seclusion and restraint - and critics say they are disproportionately targeting students with special needs.

A Maryland man says his son is one of those students - and he says it's time to stop the practice.

Guy Stephens of Lusby says his 13-year-old son is on the autism spectrum, and he's been restrained four times in two weeks.

Stephens says the experience was traumatizing for his child and now he's speaking out.

Cooper is in eighth grade and he's been home schooled since the incident in which he was secluded and restrained.

Stephens says his son has other special needs - including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety.

He believes seclusion tactics should be prohibited from schools nationwide and teachers need to be trained on restraint strategies.

Calvert County Public Schools says it has since formed a committee to examine alternatives to seclusion and restraint.

Stephens is also on that committee.

Calvert County Public Schools Superintendent Daniel Curry says, "We have work to do in this area, and a committee has been convened to review our practices. Staff will receive additional training in order to ensure compliance with policy and procedures and to maintain a safe environment for students and staff."

The Maryland school district is not alone in dealing with the seclusion and restraint dilemma.

In Northern Virginia, Fairfax County Public Schools reported that 200-plus students were secluded or restrained more than 16-hundred times last school year.

The district reportedly initially told the federal government that no students were isolated or restrained in previous years.

That was incorrect.

Typically, students are only secluded or restrained to protect themselves or others.

Currently there is no federal law regulating the polarizing policy but that could change.

Advocates have been working on changing seclusion and restraint policies in school for the last nine years and Education Secretary Betsy Devos is evaluating.