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Lawsuit challenges use of restraint, seclusion in California special education school [ EdSource]


our special education students and their parents or guardians filed a lawsuit last week against the state of California claiming they were emotionally and physically harmed when they were illegally put in restraint holds and secluded during behavioral interventions at their Concord school.

The four students attended Floyd I. Marchus School, operated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education. The public school offers special education services and integrated counseling to 85 children with emotional and behavioral disabilities. Students are referred to the school from districts in Contra Costa County and neighboring counties.

The class-action suit, alleging battery, negligence and civil rights violations, also names the California Department of Education, the Contra Costa County Office of Education and members of the staff at Marchus School as defendants. The suit also names State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, in his official capacity as state schools chief, although the incidents occurred before he took office in January.

The plaintiffs are being represented by the pro bono advocacy law firms Public Counsel and Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc., as well as a private firm.

The plaintiffs blame state officials for not monitoring and supervising the use of restraint and seclusion as behavioral interventions at schools that serve special education students. It also claims school and state officials violated the rights of students forced to sit in seclusion because it kept them from receiving basic educational services.

Read full report by Diana Lambert, EdSource

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