After being mostly ignored in these parts, the case of Angellika Arndt is getting the attention of the national news media after a General Accounting Office report showed, according to a report by National Public Radio, “children have died or been injured when they have been tied, taped, handcuffed or pinned down by adults or locked in secluded rooms, often to be left for hours at a time.”
Yeah, no kidding.
In late May 2006, Angellika Arndt was placed in a “control hold” at a “counseling center” up in Rice Lake after several infractions, such as gargling her milk, an initial state investigation showed. She died. I know the case was “mostly ignored” in the media because I was one of the people who ignored it.
Here’s the full report from the GAO. But here’s the shameful bottom line:
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. Although GAO continues to receive new allegations from parents and advocacy groups, GAO could not find a single Web site, federal agency, or other entity that collects information on the use of these methods or the extent of their alleged abuse.
GAO also examined the details of 10 restraint and seclusion cases in which there was a criminal conviction, a finding of civil or administrative liability, or a large financial settlement. The cases share the following common themes: they involved children with disabilities who were restrained and secluded, often in cases where they were not physically aggressive and their parents did not give consent; restraints that block air to the lungs can be deadly; teachers and staff in the cases were often not trained on the use of seclusions and restraints; and teachers and staff from at least 5 of the 10 cases continue to be employed as educators.
Almost all of the incidents involved children with disabilities.
Currently, eight states specifically prohibit the use of prone restraints or restraints that impede a child’s ability to breathe. Minnesota is not one of those states, according to the report.
Currently, seventeen states require that staff receive training before being permitted to restrain children. Minnesota is not one of those states, according to the report.
In 2008, the Special Education Task Force submitted its report to the Legislature on the issue, including recommended language on a proposed state regulations on the use of restraint.