Putting an End to Abuse and Neglect in Tennessee Classrooms

Special education lawyers help ensure safe classrooms for disabled children and young adults across Tennessee, including Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, and Jackson

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that children with disabilities may be at higher risk for abuse or neglect than children without disabilities. We may think of this only in the context of harassment by fellow students, but a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report issued in May 2009 found there were no federal laws restricting abusive disciplinary techniques such as seclusion and restraints in public and private schools, and widely divergent laws at the state level.

If you are the parent of a special needs child who is displaying signs of emotional or physical abuse or injury at school, and you have experienced reluctance on the part of school authorities to either explain or investigate the related circumstances, you should seek the counsel of a Tennessee special education lawyer at Gilbert Russell McWherter Scott Bobbitt, PLC. The attorneys at the Gilbert Firm have long been recognized as leading advocates for special needs children and have an enviable record of success defending their educational rights.

What are disciplinary isolation, seclusion and restraints?

Tennessee follows the Special Education Behavioral Supports Act, Tenn. Code Ann. 49-10-1301 et. seq.  This Act prevents isolations and restraints of children with disabilities except in “emergencies” and, even then, it requires notice to the parent. An “isolation” or “seclusion” is the placement of a child with a disability into areas less than forty square feet; and it prevents placement in such areas for more minutes than the child’s age.  A “restraint” is the use of force upon the child to prevent an imminent harm.

There are strict protocols for isolation, seclusion and restraint which, unfortunately, are not always known to educators. Training may be needed. The GAO found “hundreds of cases of alleged abuse and death related to the use of [seclusion and restraints] on school children during the past two decades. Examples of these cases include a 7 year old purportedly dying after being held face down for hours by school staff, 5 year olds allegedly being tied to chairs with bungee cords and duct tape by their teacher and suffering broken arms and bloody noses, and a 13 year old reportedly hanging himself in a seclusion room after prolonged confinement.”

In Tennessee, the Gilbert Firm won a case for a child with intellectual disabilities who was illegally placed inside a blue gym mat on 21 occasions, acts known and approved by the school’s own behavioral consultant and principal.

Children subjected to restraint are at higher risk of injury than adults and, even if no physical injuries result, restraint can be severely traumatizing.

The Gilbert Firm protects Tennessee students who have suffered injury, neglect and abuse at the hands of school personnel and other students. We refuse to accept that a student with special needs deserves to be treated with less dignity and discretion than other students, either as a result of inadequate or improper training, or because of ingrained prejudices against that student. If your child has suffered an injury at the hands of another person, The Firm is prepared to fight for justice on his or her behalf.

Attorneys defending your special needs child against abuse and injury in the classroom

The Gilbert Firm has built a solid reputation of success in special education law and in protecting the rights of special needs children. If you believe that your child has been abused or injured by improper use of disciplinary techniques such as isolation, restraint, or seclusion, we want to hear from you. Please call 888.996.9731 to discuss your complaint with an experienced Tennessee special education lawyer, or fill out our contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our offices are conveniently located in Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, and Jackson.