U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Resolves Restraint and Seclusion Compliance Review of Folsom Cordova Unified School District in California

Archived Information

U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Resolves Restraint and Seclusion Compliance Review of Folsom Cordova Unified School District in California

October 12, 2023

Today, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced that it has resolved a compliance review of the Folsom Cordova Unified School District in California to ensure that the district’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, and their implementing regulations.

OCR’s investigation revealed that overall, the district infrequently held Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings for students with disabilities after they were restrained or secluded, even in extreme situations, such as for a student who experienced 22 restraints at a district school in one year.

In another situation, OCR found that a student spent over 38 hours in a “Refocus Room” of a nonpublic school (NPS) in one school year and was subjected to a prone restraint, but the district did not convene the student’s IEP team until the end of the school year.

OCR also identified a compliance concern that the district may have failed to implement the IEPs and Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs) for some students and thereby denied those students their right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE). OCR identified a recordkeeping concern because the IEP and BIPs for students placed in time away did not consistently address whether and how time away should be used, and other records were not always complete or accurate.

The district 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 district 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.

“Folsom Cordova Unified School District updated its policies and practices during the course of our investigation and has now agreed to take important steps to ensure full civil rights protection for its students with disabilities with respect to restraint or seclusion in both district schools and nonpublic school settings,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon.

The steps the district committed to take in the resolution agreement include:

  • Revising and distributing to district staff and NPS employees its policies, procedures, and forms for restraint and seclusion.
  • Ensuring a process to create and maintain records about its use of restraint and seclusion.
  • Providing training on the revised policies and Section 504 FAPE requirements to teachers, administrators, and other members of IEP and Section 504 teams.
  • Ensuring that NPS staff serving district students are trained on the revised policies.
  • Providing individual remedies for students who experienced restraint or seclusion during the review period by convening their IEP or Section 504 team to determine if compensatory services are needed, and if so, by timely providing such services.
  • Conducting a review to determine whether any other district students were denied a FAPE due to the district’s or an NPS’s use of restraint or seclusion from 2019 to the present, and to implement responsive remedies based on this review. And,
  • Implementing a program to monitor the use of restraint and seclusion with students in district schools and NPSs to safeguard their rights under Section 504 and Title II.

During the investigation, the district had already taken other steps to improve its compliance, including modifying its process for reviewing behavior emergencies and rewriting its master agreement with NPSs with whom it contracts.

The letter to the district is available here and the resolution agreement here.