ASAN joins COPAA, Communication First and families in settlement banning restraint and seclusion in Fairfax County Schools

A government building with steps up to the entrance

On November 23, 2021, ASAN, COPAA and CommunicationFIRST joined numerous individual families in signing a settlement agreement with Fairfax County, VA about its use of seclusion and restraint. 

We were represented by Brown, Goldstein, & Levy, a law firm in Baltimore with a history of protecting the rights of people with disabilities.

We joined the case to support the multiple students who had been harmed by seclusion and restraint in FCPS schools, including students of color. This settlement will protect their rights. The settlement also protects the rights of all students in Fairfax County. And it helps pave the way for more challenges to seclusion and restraint in other counties. 

Seclusion ban:
As part of the settlement agreement, Fairfax County schools will stop using seclusion rooms in nearly all of their public schools by January 1, 2022, and in all their public schools by Fall 2022 (next school year). Although we would have preferred immediate relief, going to trial would not have resulted in a ban until much later than this. The settlement is the fastest way to end seclusion in Fairfax County schools. 

Restraint ban:
FCPS will also stop using restraints, except in emergency situations where safety is at risk (this doesn’t include damage to property).

This ban states that less restrictive alternatives need to be tried first. Restraints that can cause injury, restraining someone with medication, restraining people face down or on the floor, or using restraint tools (called “mechanical restraints”) will never be allowed.

The standards in this settlement will be effectively the same as in the Keeping Students Safe Act

KASSA is a federal bill that hasn’t passed yet. ASAN and many other disability rights organizations support KASSA. 

As a part of the standards:

  • The schools will have to get training in how to avoid seclusion and restraint. This will include both school staff and SROs. 
  • Schools will have to report incidents of seclusion and restraint, including incidents of restraint by SROs. 

As part of the settlement, we agreed to issue a joint press release. You can read the text of the press release here.

For more information, contact Sam Crane, ASAN’s Legal Director, at 

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network seeks to advance the principles of the disability rights movement with regard to autism. ASAN believes that the goal of autism advocacy should be a world in which autistic people enjoy equal access, rights, and opportunities. We work to empower autistic people across the world to take control of our own lives and the future of our common community, and seek to organize the autistic community to ensure our voices are heard in the national conversation about us. Nothing About Us, Without Us!