905 students physically restrained at public schools in western Massachusetts in 2017

Full list of restraint cases at public schools in western Massachusetts, and statements from superintendents below.

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) - More than 900 students were physically restrained by their teachers or administrators at public schools in western Massachusetts last year.

That's according to data the 22News I-Team obtained from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Documents show that 905 students were physically restrained at 21 public school in western Massachusetts in the 2016-2017 academic year.

The Peck School in Holyoke had the highest number, physically restraining 35 students, 180 times. That was followed by the Old Mill Pond School in Palmer, where 10 students were physically restrained 112 times, and then the Springfield Public Day Elementary School, where 32 students were restrained 83 times.

Districts were required to report restraint cases to the state for the first time last year, as part of new regulations meant to curb the practice.

The Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education told the I-Team, they discourage comparisons between schools, because of the different programs they offer and the different students they serve. 


Benjamin J Phelps
Students restrained - 8
Total # of restraints - 18
Fort River Elementary
Students restrained - 10
Total # of restraints - 32
Wildwood Elementary
Students restrained - 6
Total # of restraints -10
Students restrained - 9
Total # of restraints - 37
Peck School
Students restrained - 35
Total # of restraints - 180
Kelly School:
Students restrained - 6
Total # of restraints - 15
Lawrence School:
Students restrained - 12
Total # of restraints - 56
Old Mill Pond
Students restrained - 10
Total # of restraints - 112
Pelham Elementary
Students restrained - 8
Total # of restraints - 10
Springfield Public Day Elementary School
Students restrained - 32
Total # of restraints - 83
Students restrained - 12
Total # of restraints - 61
William N. DeBerry
Students restrained - 7
Total # of restraints - 10
John F Kennedy Middle
Students restrained - 11
Total # of restraints - 16
Springfield Public Day Middle School
Students restrained - 30
Total # of restraints - 70
Balliet Middle School
Students restrained - 21
Total # of restraints - 33
Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School of Excellence
Students restrained - 6
Total # of restraints - 8
Stanley M Koziol Elementary School
Students restrained - 8
Total # of restraints - 47
Ware Junior/Senior High School
Students restrained - 6
Total # of restraints - 8
Students restrained - 9
Total # of restraints - 46
Students restrained - 7
Total # of restraints - 19
Green Meadows Elementary
Students restrained - 6
Total # of restraints - 34
Total number of students restrained at public schools in 2016-2017 academic year - 2,314
Total number of restraints - 9,070

The I-Team contacted all of the superintendents with districts that reported restraint cases to the state. Here are the responses we have received:

Agawam Superintendent Steve Lemanski

As a district, the practice in each of our schools is to take the safety of students and staff very seriously. Whenever issues arise, our first line of action is always to attempt verbal de-escalation. Our staff has been trained utilizing the Crisis Prevention Intervention (CPI) model, which is a nationally researched and ranked program.

In accordance with Massachusetts regulations, if behavioral issues escalate to the point of endangering the physical safety of students or others, “child control hold” is used. This procedure is only applied in emergency situations of last resort, with extreme caution, and after other lawful and less intrusive alternatives have failed or been deemed inappropriate,

It should be noted that state regulations changed as of January 1, 2016. Consequently, all of our administrators have received extensive training in the new reporting requirements and changes in the regulations


Palmer Superintendent Patricia Gardner

Palmer Public Schools makes an earnest effort to keep all students in the Least Restrictive Environment.  During the course of last school year, we were able to successfully bring back several students from out-of-district placements, and/or to keep students in district with their families, siblings, and neighborhood friends.  In doing this, we were able to regulate 10 students who had struggled with the educational process.  We were also thrilled to bring on board a new Special Education Director, Colleen Culligan, who has extensive experience in developing programming for students with emotional and behavioral disorders.   As well for this school year, we have hired a BCBA and an additional adjustment counselfor.  Our goal to follow FAPE and LRE is working.  We are keeping students in their home schools and regulating behaviors.with therapeutic measures.


       Ware Superintendent Marlene DiLeo

Ware Public Schools abides by all current state regulations regarding the use of physical restraint.  This includes, but is not limited to, providing the appropriate general and in-depth training to personnel, meeting all reporting and documentation requirement guidelines and implementing a Restraint Implementation, Prevention and Behavior Support Plan.  We continue to focus on utilizing proactive measures and alternative strategies that assist in reducing the number of physical interventions necessary.  The District works diligently to ensure that the safety and well-being of our students is the top priority.
Amherst Superintendent Michael Morris:
    To ensure both compliance and best practices, all personnel in our district(s) have all been trained on the new MA restraint regulations. We review the regulations annually in all schools and provide opportunities for discussion and questions and answers. Enhanced review and reporting requirements are part of the new regulations and are fully in practice in all of our schools. In addition, we have had several personnel in our districts trained as trainers in the QBS Safety Care protocol who have trained personnel in all schools to be certified in approved practices when verbal de-escalation and restraint may be needed. Each school has teams of certified personnel and recertification is done as required."
Holyoke Superintendent Dr. Stephen Zrike:
    We continue to review these numbers and our practices and look for ways to reduce the number of restraints while also ensuring the safety of students in specialized programs, such as the one housed at the Peck School."
We'll continue to update this story as statements come in.

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