Watchdog: Schools underreporting use of restraint, seclusion

A federal watchdog agency says public schools have significantly underreported their use of restraint and seclusion to control students' behavior

A federal watchdog agency says public schools have significantly underreported their use of restraint and seclusion to control students' behavior.

The Government Accountability Office on Tuesday detailed reporting errors in which New York City, Philadelphia and other districts entered zeros in the Education Department's data system for 2015-16 when they should have indicated the data was unavailable.

The office said 70% of more than 17,000 U.S. districts reported zero incidents. Without reliable data, it said, neither the department nor public can know how often students are subjected to the measures, which are supposed to be used only when students are likely to hurt themselves or others.

In response, the Education Department agreed to clarify the reporting process going forward but disagreed with a recommendation to correct past errors.