JCPS working to deliver accurate student-restraint numbers to state

Published: Mar. 8, 2016 at 10:51 PM EST|Updated: Apr. 22, 2016 at 10:28 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Thousands of cases of Jefferson County Public School students being restrained and secluded were not reported to the state, and now, the district is taking steps to fix the problem.

JCPS said it was a technical issue that kept the numbers of seclusions and restraints from being reported accurately to the state, though they were reported correctly to the federal government.

WAVE 3 News on Tuesday obtained a letter Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens sent to the Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education last week, making the state aware of the issue which came to JCPS' attention after another media outlet requested open records.

More Coverage
+ Letter From Hargens to KDE
+ Response Letter From KDE to Hargens

Hargens said there was an inaccuracy on the district's report card, that the seclusion and restraint data reported to the state via an online tool called Infinite Campus is wrong. The report card showed 174 seclusions and restraints for the 2014-2015 school year. The actual number is more than 4,400.

"As of today our system has been shutdown so that the case cannot cannot be inadvertently to it and not be added to the state system," said Hargens.

The definition of a seclusion or a restraint varies. It can be as simple as holding a student's arm and walking him down the hall to the principal's office. It can also be when a child with autism needs to be calmed down through a hugging technique. Holding down a student who is endangering the safety of others is obviously part of the definition as well.

What JCPS found out is that its staff was supposed to enter reports through its internal system and Infinite Campus, but it didn't get done because some staffers didn't have reporting privileges on Infinite Campus. Starting Tuesday, JCPS began streamlining their reporting methods.

"Moving forward, we are just using the one input system which is Infinite Campus," JCPS spokesperson Allison Gardner Martin said. "We are going back and entering in manually the previous years' data to ensure the state has accurate numbers from Jefferson County Public Schools."

JCPS said most of the cases where a student had to be restrained or secluded involved students who have special needs. For instance, at Binet School, there were more than 1,700 seclusions and restraints reported to their internal system. Any time a case pops up where a student is restrained or secluded, parents are notified, JCPS said.

JCPS Board Chair David Jones expressed concerned over the inaccurate data at Tuesday's school board meeting.

"We have both substantive questions whether the treatment of the students is appropriate  but we very clearly have concerns about the accuracy and integrity of the information," said Jones.

Hargens and board chair David Jones have asked for an internal audit of data collection and submission to assess any problems that might pop up in the future.

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