Parents suing Concord special ed school after students allegedly restrained

CONCORD, Calif. (KGO) -- A special ed school in the East Bay is being sued by families who say their children were put into frightening and traumatic restraint holds by staff members. The plaintiffs say these restraints are not allowed under California law.

A mother, we'll call Elyse, has a daughter and son who both attend the Floyd Marchus Counseling and Education Center in Concord because of behavior disorders.Elyse says the disorders are getting worse.

"In addition to being diagnosed with emotional disturbances and ADD/ADHD, now the diagnosis includes depression and anxiety," Elyse said.

She says the primary reason is the restraints staff members put them in when they act out.

"What she described to me was being held down on the ground and her head bent down between her legs," Elyse said.

Elyse and two other families have filed suit against the Marchus School, the Contra Costa County Board of Education and the State Board of Education, complaining that the holds violate state law. They are represented by the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund.

"It is very explicit in the law that it cant be used for punishment and control" said attorney Arlene Mayerson.

Mayerson says restraints can only be used in a real emergency where there's an imminent threat of bodily injury to the student or staff. They're asking for an injunction preventing further behavior, and changes to state laws and regulations involving special students.

ABC7 News tried to reach both the Marchus School and the county board of education, but neither has responded.
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