Viral Newz

Texas parents demand lawmaker action on restraints in schools


AUSTIN (TEXAS) — Texas parents are set to speak at the Capitol Monday morning in support of new legislation regulating the use of restraint in public schools, including the mother of a 14-year-old Round Rock Independent School District student with special needs who surveillance cameras recorded being tossed into a ‘cool down room’ by a school administrator last year.

Disability Rights Texas, a federally designated legal protection agency for people with disabilities, and other advocacy groups are calling for several measures to be taken this session — including improved independent investigations by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services of alleged abuse in schools.   

The groups are also calling for tighter regulation of restraint practices in schools, and better use of surveillance cameras. 

“We are calling on state leaders to finally respond to the ongoing endangerment of students with disabilities,” Steven Aleman of Disability Rights Texas said. 

In recent years, there has been a myriad of cases in Texas involving the restraint of students with special needs. Disability Rights Texas published a report in 2020 finding nine times out of ten, a school restraint is of a student with a disability.

In Hutto, two special education administrators were charged with unlawful restraint and tampering with government records after investigators said they forced a student with severe autism into a jumpsuit, used duct tape to secure it — and improperly reported the incident to the state. 

The case ended in a deadlocked jury and a mistrial. The two administrators later plead no contest only to the charge they improperly reported the incident as a part of a deal with prosecutors. The other charges were dropped. 

The majority of the alleged incident took place in the special education classrooms at Hutto High School and was not caught on surveillance video because there were none installed in the rooms by the district. 

A Round Rock ISD administrator is no longer working at a campus for students with special needs after a video appeared to show him grabbing a 14-year-old student and tossing him into a ‘cool-down room’ where the student hit his head on the wall. 

The Texas Education Agency is still investigating the educator involved. A letter sent to the student’s mother on June 2022 shows Texas DFPS initially ruled out abuse in the matter. 

A spokesperson for DFPS said it was unable to comment on the case because it was confidential. 

Rep. Mary Gonzales (D-El Paso) filed a bill this session banning certain types of restraint from being used in schools. 

Gonzales said she met with Disability Rights Texas, TEA — and other advocacy groups to consult about the legislation. 


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