Thursday, April 2, 2009

Action Alert: GAO Seeking Info about Restraints, Seclusion & Aversives Use in Schools

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress' investigative arm, is seeking information about the use of restraints, seclusion, and aversives in day school programs. The GAO will be developing a report in preparation for hearings to be held by House Education Committee Chairman George Miller on the issue. Day schools are schools that are not residential. The GAO is interested in all kinds of cases, civil and criminal, cases in court and cases in due process/other administrative hearings. In addition, COPAA is collecting information about situations that didn't involve court or hearings.

CATEGORY ONE: Cases, Hearings, Criminal and Civil
Please provide the following information to Christine A. Hodakievic, GAO Senior Special Agent, email: We would also appreciate a copy to us at but that is not essential.

1. Information about any Court case, due process hearing or other administrative hearing involving restraints, seclusion, or aversives in a day school program. It does not have to be an IDEA case. It can be any kind of case, such as Constitutional, wrongful death or other tort action, 504, or any other kind of case/hearing. It can be a litigated case or a case that was filed and settled or otherwise concluded.

2 Information about any Criminal Matter involving restraint, seclusion, or aversives in a school. This can be a criminal case that went to a trial, a criminal case resolved without a trial, an indictment, an information, arrest, or any other kind of criminal matter. (Some of you have represented children who were witnesses in criminal cases against school staff who used aversive interventions. The GAO would be interested in these criminal cases, as well as others.)

3. Information about complaints filed with a State Department of Education about restraints, seclusion, or aversives in a day school program.

In your email to the GAO, it would be very helpful to describe the case, provide any identifying information such as a citation, describe what happened to the child, what happened in the case/hearing/complaint, and any other pertinent information. If you know whether the case is still pending or whether civil litigation has ended, please add that. The GAO would also appreciate receiving copies of complaints, hearing notices, pleadings, briefs, and decisions/orders, if you would like to provide them (its optional). Obviously, if you have a big case file, choose the most important documents. If you filed a complaint with your State Department of Education, but didn't file a court case or due process, please be very clear about that in your email to the GAO. It helps them sort out what they are getting, since they will be receiving many many emails.

CATEGORY 2: Other Situations--no filed case or hearing.
COPAA is also seeking information about any other situations in which children were subject to restraints, seclusion, or aversives but a case or due process/administrative hearing was not filed. We have set up a computerized survey form for you to report it. We will be sharing this information with the GAO and as otherwise explained in the survey. This computerized form simply allows us to collect all of the information together and sort it so that we can do this quickly. If you wish to complete the survey, click here
(If the link doesn't work, the full link is

IF YOU HAVE A SITUATION IN WHICH A COURT CASE, HEARING, CRIMINAL COMPLAINT, or other litigation, court filing, or case ensued, please report it directly to the GAO as stated in Category 1. Please use the COPAA survey form only for other situations in which restraints, seclusion, or aversives were used.

Thank you and feel free to contact us with any other questions. Again, please feel free to repost or otherwise share this information with others.

Jessica Butler
Congressional Affairs Co-Chair
Council of Parent Attorneys & Advocates, Inc. (COPAA)
A National Voice for Special Education Rights and Advocacy

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james said...

This is James. And i will give the information about the drugs.
Drug Intervention Washington

tcfpbis said...


Thank you so much for the response.

Please share any information you think the GAO should know about.

The more we can break through the barriers of silence - and silent acceptance - the better!

Best regards,

Jennifer Searcy
Founder/Director of Public Policy & Affairs
The Coalition for Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports