Florida School Isolation and Restraints Lawyer

If you have a child with disabilities, you put a great deal of trust when sending him or her to school. You expect teachers, administrators, and other school officials to treat your child with respect and not put him or her in danger. However, some school officials can isolate and restrain children with disabilities, leading to severe physical and emotional damage.

Florida law protects disabled students against unnecessary uses of isolation and restraint. If your child suffered damage due to this form of negligence by school officials, contact Rodal Law as soon as possible. Clients trust Rodal Law to represent their civil lawsuits for school negligence and brutality.

  • Our attorney provides close and consistent attention to your case from consultation to settlement.
  • Rodal Law will never pass your case off to a paralegal or assistant – you will work one on one with our attorney.
  • Our firm values open and honest communication throughout your case. You will always remain informed of any important developments and deadlines.

Disabled Children Experience Isolation and Restraint at Alarming Rates

According to this ProPublica exposé, children with disabilities have suffered from violent isolation and restraint at alarmingly high rates. The institutions responsible for subjecting these students to these terrifying and painful conditions were school officials and disciplinarians. When these children go into a panic or suffer from an outburst of agitation, officials would often wrestle them into “quiet rooms,” restraining them using painful mechanisms against their will.

These practices can include pinning children on the floor, locking them in closets, and restraining them with duct tape, handcuffs, or straps. During the 2012 school year alone, school officials used these methods of “discipline” more than 267,000 times nationwide. Alarmingly, 75% of the students who suffered from these restraint and isolation methods had intellectual, physical, or emotional disabilities. Over the past two decades, 20 children died as a result of isolation and restraint and many more have sustained painful injuries.

Florida Laws on Restraint and Seclusion in School

While these methods remain lawful in many states across the country, Florida is not one of them. On July 1, 2010, the state passed Florida Statute 1003.573, which establishes standards and procedures on the use, monitoring, and documentation of isolation and restraint on students with disabilities. Under this law, children with disabilities have three vital rights.

  • Parents must receive notification and copies of incident reports involving isolation and restraint.
  • School officials cannot use mechanical restraints that restrict a student’s breathing.
  • School officials cannot use manual or physical restraints that restrict a student’s breathing.

The incident report that parents receive must include the name, age, grade, race, gender, ethnicity, and disability of the student who experienced the isolation or restraint. The report must list when and where the incident that led to the restraint or isolation occurred, where the child experienced the restraint or isolation, and how long it lasted. The report must also explain how the child experienced the restraint or isolation, who restrained him or her, any witnesses to the isolation or restraint, and what happened before the restraint.

The school must justify the restraint or isolation by listing what de-escalation strategies occurred beforehand. Schools can only use restraint and isolation if the child or someone else was at risk of immediate harm, and they must take appropriate action to reintegrate or debrief the student afterwards.

Holding a School Accountable for Unlawful Isolation and Restraint

Children with disabilities can experience serious physical and psychological harm during periods of unlawful isolation and restraint. Florida schools and school districts must follow strict regulations for these practices, and if you believe that they broke these rules, you can hold them accountable through an isolation and restraint lawsuit.

Has your child suffered physical or emotional injuries due to isolation and restraint at school? You could claim compensation for his or her injuries through a civil lawsuit. Contact Rodal Law today to learn more about your legal options and begin the claims process as soon as possible.