Clearinghouse coding complete
On November 3, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division notified the Anchorage School District (“the District”) that it was initiating an investigation into whether the District engaged in improper seclusion and restraint practices, denying students with disabilities access to the District’s programs and services in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The investigation reviewed the District’s practices during the 2018-2021 school years. Before the investigation concluded, the District expressed a desire to improve its practices, but the DOJ nevertheless concluded that the District had repeatedly and inappropriately secluded and restrained students with disabilities in violation of Title II. Per state law and the District's own policy, use of restraint and seclusion practices was meant to be limited to emergency situations. However, the District used restraint and seclusion to address noncompliant student behavior regularly, resulting in students missing large amounts of class time. Additionally, some students subjected to seclusion engaged in self-harm and expressed suicidal ideation.
On February 16, 2023, the DOJ announced that they had reached a settlement with the District. As part of the settlement, the District agreed to 1) appoint an administrator to monitor the District’s restraint practices (and seclusion until that practice is prohibited) to ensure compliance with the agreement; 2) create classroom management plans for specialized programs serving students with disabilities intended to promote and reinforce positive behaviors and guide staff in employing appropriate de-escalation techniques, thereby discouraging the use of restraints; 3) eliminate the use of seclusion at all District schools before the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year; 4) ensure students are only restrained when their behavior poses an imminent danger of serious physical harm to the student or another person, and properly document all restraints; 5) provide students who are restrained or secluded with required interventions and supports to prevent future incidents requiring such an emergency response; 6) ensure parents/guardians are aware they can file a complaint with the District regarding the use of restraint and seclusion; 7) deliver appropriate training to help schools implement the agreement; and 8) provide counseling or compensatory education at least equal to the number of hours the student was secluded, to students who were repeatedly secluded during the 2018-2021 school years.
The parties anticipated keeping the agreement in effect until the end of the 2025-26 school year. The District was required to submit reports twice a year in January and July, beginning in July 2023 and ending with a report in July 2026, following the conclusion of that school year. Following the submission of this last report, the government would have 90 days to raise any remaining concerns. Should the DOJ decline to raise any concerns, the agreement was set to terminate following the submission of the July 2026 report.
As of April 2023, the District’s reporting obligations remain ongoing.
Simran Takhar (4/9/2023)
Last updated Aug. 30, 2023, 1:32 p.m.Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.
State / Territory: Alaska
Case Ongoing: Yes
The DOJ investigated the Anchorage School District for alleged violations of the ADA, for repeatedly and inappropriately secluding and restraining students with disabilities in violation of Title II.
Public Interest Lawyer: Yes
Filed Pro Se: No
Class Action Sought: No
Class Action Outcome: Not sought
Causes of Action:
Special Case Type(s):
Prevailing Party: Plaintiff
Nature of Relief:
Source of Relief:
Form of Settlement: