Death at School: Parents Fight Back Against Deadly Discipline


But school lobbyists opposed to federal legislation say restraint and seclusion techniques are essential in teaching children with autism and other emotional and behavioral disabilities who act out in class and help to keep schools safe.

"There are situations where if you don't have the ability to restrain a child, that child is going to wind up either hurting himself or somebody else," said Daniel Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators. "There are many cases where the use of seclusion has been in the best interest of the child."

Domenech, who once oversaw the schools in Fairfax County, Virginia, said he agrees that more training is needed to prevent teachers from restraining children in ways that are dangerous. He winced when told of schools that stuffed children in sacks or used duct tape to restrain them.

"Restraint is something that we won't see or don't want to see put in place unless it is absolutely necessary," Domenech said. "But the problem is the training."

The American Association of School Administrators believes restraint and seclusion policies should be decided on a local and state level, leaving the federal government to focus on ensuring school districts have the funding and resources they need to support a variety of approaches to address the issue.

While progress has been made at the state level in strengthening laws and statues, many parents and advocacy groups in support of the federal legislation say it's been too slow and the inconsistencies between and within states leave children with disabilities vulnerable.

Foster remain mystified at how her son could receive an achievement award and hours later die in a setting as carefree as a school basketball court.

"I trusted the counselors as I spoke to them and they told me, 'Corey is doing great,'" said a weary Foster. "I feel betrayed and lied to."

In an email statement, Meredith Barber, director of institutional advancement at Leake & Watts told ABC News, "While the cause of Corey's agitated behavior towards staff that day is unknown, our staff used various de-escalation and re-direction techniques prior to initiating the therapeutic hold, which was performed correctly and in accordance with the state-mandated protocol. The protocol mandates that therapeutic holds are only instituted if an individual poses a danger to himself or others."

"There was nothing therapeutic about that," said Mrs. Foster as she watched the video of her son's final moments. She told ABC News she was unaware of the school's restraint policy. "I didn't know anything about restraint and therapeutic holds until this happened."

The Foster family is suing Leake & Watts for the wrongful death of their son Corey.

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