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Too many Washington students are being physically restrained or isolated, advocates say

The state has released numbers to show how often school staff physically restrain or isolate K-12 students. Student advocates say the data is concerning.

The data follow a new state law that bars public schools from restraining or isolating students unless the student poses an imminent threat to themself or others.

The law also requires public schools to report all cases where a student was restrained or isolated.

That could be holding students back to break up a fight or putting a student with behavioral problems in a separate room to cool down.

Arzu Forough directs Washington Autism Alliance & Advocacy, and supported the new law.

Forough:  "I was very surprised at some of the numbers."

 Forough:  "There was one student in particular that was isolated 617 times in one high school in Bellingham."

That was just in the first six months of this year.

Forough:  "It makes me wonder:  Is this a student who can speak; is this a student who has a disability; what are other circumstances? What is being tried first before isolation and restraint?"

According to the report, students were injured 333 times in the isolation or restraint process. There were nearly a thousand staff injuries.

Data was missing for many schools.

Forough said the numbers show that school staff need to be better trained to avoid the use of physical force.

Year started with KUOW: 2008