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GAO Makes Recommendations on Restraint and Seclusion Data Collection

Seclusion in a Classroom

On June 30, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) provided an update to the U.S. Department of Education regarding implementation of open recommendations that need to be given high priority. Among the recommendations are three related to the quality of data collected on incidents of restraint and seclusion in K-12 schools that were flagged for the Department in April 2020.

The GAO wrote, “we found problems with data quality and control processes that cast doubt on the accuracy of these data, making it difficult to determine the frequency and prevalence of restraint and seclusion among K-12 students.”

It recommends that the Office for Civil Rights within the Department of Education take the following steps to address data discrepancies:

  • Develop and implement a Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) business rule that targets schools and school districts that report very low numbers of incidents and set data-driven thresholds to detect such incidents.
  • Develop and implement a CRDC business rule that targets schools and school districts that report a very high number of incidents and set data-driven thresholds to detect such incidents.
  • Identify the factors that cause underreporting and misreporting of restraint and seclusion and take steps to help school districts overcome these issues.

The Department has agreed to prioritize these recommendations and begun to develop a rule that is expected to be issued in January 2022.

View the full GAO letter

Posted:  8 July, 2021
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