The following is part of a six-month investigation carried out by VPM (Virginia Public Media:
According to state data, Virginia private schools serving students with disabilities reported a total of about 10,000 student seclusions across two recent school years. Regulations for the use of seclusion and restraint in these schools took effect in 2015, while regulations for the use of the practices in public schools haven’t been formally approved yet.
The state’s private school regulations define seclusion as “confinement of a student alone in a room from which the student is physically prevented from leaving.” The regulations also specify that seclusion should only be used in an emergency to prevent a student from seriously harming himself or others and “after less intrusive interventions have been attempted and failed to manage that particular behavior and there is a substantial explanation for why other interventions were deemed inadequate or inappropriate.” They also state that seclusion shouldn’t be used for disciplinary reasons, punishment, retaliation or for “staff’s convenience.”
One school reported over half of the approximately 10,000 seclusions for all Virginia private day schools combined for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years. The Faison Center reported a total of 5,617 seclusions to the state over that time period. The private, nonprofit school is located in Richmond’s West End and serves about 200 students with disabilities, many on the autism spectrum. The school first opened in 1999 with a handful of students but has steadily expanded since then.