Data and Statistics
Cost of ADHD
The Science of ADHD
The Importance of Science
Understanding Research Studies
Levels of Evidence for ADHD Interventions
Treatment of ADHD
Complementary and Other Interventions
Neurofeedback (EEG Biofeedback)
Fish Oil Supplements and ADHD
Nutrition and ADHD
Questions and Answers
Carrying Your Medication
ADHD, Sleep and Sleep Disorders
Disruptive Behavior Disorders
Tics and Tourette Syndrome
Professionals Who Diagnose and Treat ADHD
Hospital and University ADHD Centers
Insurance and Public Benefits
The Insurance System
Paying for Medications
Private Health Insurance
Public Health Insurance
Frequently Asked Questions about ADHD
Myths and Misunderstandings
Glossary of Terms
ADHD in the News
Fact Sheets on ADHD
For Parents & Caregivers
Parent Training and Education
Social Skills Interventions
Coexisting Conditions in Children
Pediatric Bipolar Disorder
Substance Abuse and ADHD
Common Coexisting Conditions in Children
Preschoolers and ADHD
Behavioral Therapy for Young Children
ADHD and Childcare
Diagnosing ADHD in Adolescence
Treatment of Teens with ADHD
ADHD Information for Teens
Parenting Teens with ADHD
Questions and Answers
Teens with ADHD and Driving
Teens and Driving
Medication Abuse and Diversion
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Requesting an Evaluation in Public Schools
Tips for Working with the School
Tips for Talking to Teachers about ADHD
Finding the Right College
Disclosing ADHD During the Admissions Process
Succeeding in College with ADHD
Scholarships & Financial Aid
Questions and Answers
Tips for Completing Homework
How to Communicate with your Child’s Teacher
Homework Help for ADHD
Surviving the Holidays with ADHD
Diagnosis of ADHD
Diagnosing ADHD in Adults
ADHD and the Military
How to Succeed in the Workplace
Laws and Legal Protections
Americans with Disabilities - ADA & ADAAA
Legal Rights in Higher Education and the Workplace
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Finding an Attorney or Legal Advocate
Living with ADHD: A Lifespan Disorder
Women and Girls
ADHD Medication and Pregnancy
ADHD and Driving
Organization and Time Management
Relationships & Social Skills
Marriage and Partnerships
Social Skills in Adults with ADHD
Mastering Social Skills
Time Management: Step-By-Step with a Day Planner
Apps for ADHD
For Healthcare Professionals
Clinical Practice Guidelines
The ADHD Diagnostic Process
Diagnosis in Adults
Diagnosis in Children
Clinical Practice Tools
Evaluation and Assessment Tools
Rating Scales and Checklists
Treatment of Adults
The Role of Medication
Teacher Training on ADHD
Tips for Teachers Video Series
Recursos en español
Tips and Resources
Medical Benefit Program
Start a Group
Current CHADD Volunteers
Volunteer Leader Center
Login to your CHADD email
Edit your website
Other Local Support Resources
Find a Study
Post a Research Study
Young Scientist Awards
CHADD's Amazon Store
P2P On Demand Webinars
CHADD Advocacy Manual
Training & Events
Save the Date - CHADD Conference 2018
2017 Annual International Conference on ADHD
2017 Conference Web Site
Pre Conference Handouts -Thursday 11/9/17
General Conference Handouts -Friday 11/10/17
General Conference Handouts - Saturday 11/11/17
General Conference Handouts - Sunday 11/12/17
Conference Program Book
Order the 2017 CHADD Conference In-A-Box
ADHD Awareness Month
ADHD Awareness Month Calendar
Ask the Expert
Ask the Expert Educator Edition
Parent to Parent Program
P2P On Demand Sessions
Family Training on ADHD In Your Community
Teacher to Teacher
Teacher to Teacher - School System
Calendar of Events
Training for Professionals
Health Care Providers
Training for Parents
Transitioning to Adulthood
Find a Chapter
Local Affiliate Resources
Tools and Resources
Start a Group
Recruitment & Retention Tools
Renew My Membership
The ADHD Tool Kit
Membership Types and Benefits
Get Listed in CHADD's Resource Directory
JOIN CHADD - International Membership
JOIN CHADD - US Membership
Attention Magazine Subscriptions
Attention Magazine - Digital Editions
CHADD Discount Advantage Programs
Mission and History
National Resource Center
Boards and Staff
Board of Directors
Professional Advisory Board
Public Policy Committee
CHADD Funding Sources
Advertise with CHADD
Jobs at CHADD
Bilingual Health Information Specialist
Health Information Specialist
Health Science Writer
Education Program Manager
Report a Problem
Gifts that Lead
Gifts that Sustain
Gifts that Double
Other Ways to Donate
Corporate Partner Members
Donate Your Vehicle
ADHD Weekly Newsletter
Office of Civil Rights Clarifies Schools’ Limits for Restraint of Students
Join the discussion.
Alarming news reports on national television have shown several cases of children affected by ADHD and other disabilities being physically restrained by educators or school resource officers. In one particular event, an 8-year-old boy affected by ADHD was restrained by a school resource officer by using handcuffs to hold his arms behind him. In another instance, a teacher was found guilty of assault after writing the word “focus” on the forehead of a middle school student affected by ADHD.
Not only have parents of children affected by ADHD and other disabilities taken notice, so has the Office of Civil Rights for the Department of Education. On Dec. 28, 2016, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidance in the form a
“Dear Colleague Letter”
to all public schools to clarify when restraint and seclusion may be used. It makes it clear that the use of restraint and seclusion can violate a student’s educational rights, can be discriminatory, and can create additional academic and behavioral challenges for the student. When an event occurs, the school needs to revisit the child’s academic plan to be sure needed supports are provided to that student.
Restraint is using physical strength or mechanical means to contain a child’s movements. In a crisis where a child is actively trying to hurt himself or others, restraint may be necessary until the child stops. In seclusion, a child is removed from the classroom to another room or space alone, away from his classmates, and unable to leave.
OCR’s Civil Rights Data Collection
office, students with disabilities were restrained or secluded at a higher rate than other students. The office reports that about 100,000 students were placed in restraint or seclusion during the 2013-14 school year; of those students, 69,000 were students with disabilities who received academic services under IDEA.
“I think the whole notion of the number of complaints OCR gets is playing itself out here,” says CHADD Public Policy Committee member Carl Smith, PhD. The large number of complaints, he says, has prompted the OCR to offer the further guidance because it appears that many schools or administrators do not fully understand the law regarding children affected by disabilities and restraint or seclusion.
Dr. Smith is a professor in the Iowa State University in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. He says the new guidance helps schools better understand the consequences of applying restraint to students affected by disabilities. Parents, he says, have additional information to present to schools when advocating for their children.
What the guidance means for public schools
Schools are reminded:
Students with disabilities are to receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). Repeated restraining or secluding of students who are not in crisis interferes with a student’s right to FAPE. If there is an academic plan in place, these practices can interfere with the goals of the academic plan.
Students who display behavioral problems may require a 504 Plan to help them be successful. When behavioral issues are the result of a disability, means and methods of response should be defined in the 504 Plan to ensure safety, with minimal negative behavioral, academic and social impact to the child.
When a student is restrained or secluded, even once, the trauma of the event could give rise to additional academic or behavioral challenges that can interfere with his ability to receive FAPE.
When educators determine a student’s educational needs are not being met, they must:
Determine the extent to which additional or different interventions or supports and services are needed
Determine whether the current interventions and supports are being done the way that works best for the student
Ensure that any needed changes are done as quickly as possible
Correct, to the best of their ability, any denial of FAPE that happened because of the prior use of restraint or seclusion
What parents need to know
You have the right to discuss the effect restraint and seclusion can have on your child. You should know your rights:
Restraint and seclusion can interfere with your child’s right to FAPE, including interfering with an existing 504 Plan or IEP.
Parents can appeal any decisions made about their children receiving 504 services or an IEP.
Parents can make requests for specific services under both plans.
Parents can look at their children’s school records and ask questions about the information.
Parents have the opportunity for an impartial hearing if they and the school cannot agree on a course of action.
You can bring the information in the new guidance to the school’s attention when you are advocating for your child, especially when there has been an incident of restraint or seclusion.
What can you do if your child is restrained or secluded?
If your child is restrained or placed in a secluded environment, immediately contact the school principal and your child’s teacher to understand what happened and what led up to the restraint or removal from class.
Dr. Smith suggests requesting a meeting with the educators involved to determine if there need to be adjustments made to the 504 Plan or IEP following the event.
“When there has been restraint or seclusion, it can mean that a youngster is not receiving an appropriate educational program,” Dr. Smith says. “It’s important to go into the meeting and say, ‘These are the needs of my child.’ The common theme is to talk about what supports are provided, not the consequences that could occur.”
You can also bring the
Dear Colleague Letter: Restraint and Seclusion of Students with Disabilities
to the educators’ attention, he says. Using it as a guide, you and the educators can discuss if the use of restrain or seclusion was appropriate and the school’s responsibilities following the event.
You can also request that any additional academic or behavioral difficulties stemming from the event be included in revisions of your child’s academic plan.
Additional information or assistance from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights:
Fact Sheet: Restraint and Seclusion of Students with Disabilities.
A condensed version of OCR’s guidance to schools.
For more information, questions or technical assistance on civil rights compliance, contact the OCR customer service team at 1-800-421-3481 (TDD 1-800-877-8339) or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit OCR’s website at
Parent and Educator Resource Guide to Section 504 in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools
If you believe you’ve experienced discrimination based on your child’s disability, race, color, national origin, sex, or age, you can file a complaint of discrimination with OCR within 180 days of the alleged discrimination. For more details on how to file a complaint, visit
or contact OCR’s customer service team at 1-800-421-3481 (TDD 1-800-877-8339).
What are your thoughts on restrain and seclusion when applied to students affected by ADHD?
This article appeared in
February 02, 2017.
The information provided on this website was supported by Cooperative Agreement Number NU38DD005376 funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC or the Department of Health and Human Services.