Today, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) resolved a compliance review of Spectrum Academy in Utah to ensure that the Academy’s restraint and seclusion policies and practices do not deny students with disabilities their civil rights in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II), and their implementing regulations.
OCR’s investigation revealed that the Academy failed to hold required Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings for specific students with disabilities to evaluate the impact on the students of repeated use of restraint and seclusion and failed to consider the need for compensatory services for these students.
In addition, OCR identified compliance concerns related to another 26 students whom the Academy subjected to a high number of restraints and seclusions. The Academy may have failed to consider the educational impact on these students of repeated use of restraint and seclusion. OCR also identified a concern that the Academy may have failed to re-evaluate the students to determine if the Academy’s repeated use of restraint and seclusion caused them to miss instruction or services, denied them a free appropriate public education (FAPE), and indicated a need for additional aids and services to ensure a FAPE. OCR also had a concern that the Academy did not evaluate the need for or offer compensatory services to these students for missed services and instruction.
Finally, OCR identified a compliance concern that the Academy’s record keeping practices may have prevented the Academy from being able to determine whether its current array of special education and related aids and services was sufficient to provide a FAPE.
OCR also noted significant inaccuracy in the Academy’s reporting to the 2017-18 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) for the 2017-18 CRDC, the Academy reported 50 instances of physical restraint and 33 instances of seclusion, whereas the information the Academy reported to OCR for this compliance review reflected that there were approximately 276 total instances of restraint and seclusion that school year. This data discrepancy suggests that the Academy’s system for maintaining records regarding restraint and seclusion may be inadequate to allow the Academy to accurately report incidents of restraint to the CRDC.
The Academy agreed to resolve these violations and compliance concerns by making significant changes to its policies, procedures, and training requirements with respect to the use of restraint and seclusion. The Academy also agreed to remedy prior instances where restraint and seclusion of its students denied or may have denied them a FAPE, and to develop a monitoring program to ensure that any future restraint or seclusion complies with Section 504 and Title II.
“Spectrum Academy has committed to important steps to ensure that its emergency use of restraint or seclusion does not deny students with disabilities their federally protected civil rights,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon.
The steps the Academy committed to take in a resolution agreement include:
Revising and distributing to Academy staff its policies, procedures, and forms for restraint and seclusion to promote its compliance with Section 504 and Title II.
- Providing training on the revised policies and Section 504 FAPE-related requirements to all teachers, administrators, and other members of IEP and Section 504 teams.
- Providing individual remedies for students who experienced restraint or seclusion during the review period by convening a properly constituted IEP team to determine if compensatory services are needed, and if so, by timely providing such services.
- Conducting a review to determine whether any other Academy students were denied a FAPE due to the Academy’s use of restraint or seclusion from 2019 to the present, and to implement responsive remedies based on this review.
- Ensuring records about its use of restraint and seclusion are created and maintained and that it will accurately report data to the CRDC in future. And,
- Implementing a program to monitor the use of restraint and seclusion with students in the Academy’s schools to safeguard their rights under Section 504 and Title II.