A SCHOOL has apologized after two students were repeatedly strapped into “special” chairs to prevent them from moving.
Five Acre Wood special school in Maidstone, kentadmitted to breaking his own politics and governance by using mechanical restraints on the autistic twins.
Samuel and Jacob Montague’s parents have been offered more than £80,000 in compensation by Kent County Council (KCC), which runs the school, after admitting multiple defaults following a legal battle.
The twins, who are both severely autistic and non-verbal, had started at the school in 2009 at the age of four and it was planned that they would stay there until they were 19.
You are now 17 years old.
However, their parents Annie and Mark removed them in 2013 after realizing that staff were constantly restraining the boys by strapping them to chairs, despite a number of objections and protests.
The first public incident happened in 2010 when the boys were brought out to a school concert strapped to the “hard rock” chairs.
The restraints on the chairs restrict movement through a series of straps that go around the legs, arms, and shoulders.
When their parents protested at school, they were told that using the mechanical restraint chairs was the only way for the boys to attend such a concert and that the incident was a one-off.
However, the couple worried that the twins were being routinely detained at school.
In June 2011, a clinical psychologist visited the school and saw one of the boys strapped to the hard rock chairs in the classroom.
The parents protested, but the chairs were used anyway.
During a school sports day attended by the boys’ mother and her caregiver, Jacob was strapped into the chair and visibly distraught.
Due to autism, the twins interpret the world through touch and movement, and thus using the chairs to restrain them undermines human rights, Mr and Mrs Montague said.
They took Samuel and Jacob out of school and homeschooled them and the boys have thrived ever since, KentOnline reports.
The couple filed a civil complaint under the Human Rights Act against KCC, saying the restraints were used unlawfully because the school failed to consider less restrictive options and had no plan to reduce the use of the restraints.
The school acknowledged a number of shortcomings in using the chairs and that it had not even considered using less restrictive options.
It also failed to record, report or monitor use of the chairs.
A spokesman for KCC said in a statement that the Council “sincerely apologizes for any harm, distress and/or pain and suffering inflicted on Samuel and Jacob and their parents as a result of these errors.”
Following the settlement, Mr and Mrs Montague said: “We are delighted that the cases of Samuel and Jacob have come to a successful conclusion and that the local authority has finally admitted that they have let our sons down.
“Children with special educational needs should be protected and not tied to chairs. Abuse of children like Samuel and Jacob takes place behind closed doors and it is very difficult for parents to find evidence to challenge or initiate litigation.”
They have also called for a change in the law to make it clearer that these shackles should not be used against children like Samuel and Jacob.
Attorney Catriona Rubens, representing the Montague family, said: “Samuel and Jacob were active, sensory-seeking children who, because of their autism, interpret the world through movement and touch.
“We believe that by placing them in mechanical restraint chairs at school, the local authority violated their human rights and provided no therapeutic benefit to the twins.
“We welcome Kent County Council’s sincere apologies and acknowledgment of the failure of Samuel and Jacob in this case.
“The success of Samuel and Jacob’s case is a testament to the many years their parents have struggled to get answers from local authorities about the use of restraint on their sons.”
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https://www.the-sun.com/news/4987716/school-apology-strapped-autistic-students-chairs-restraints/ School apologizes to angry parents after strapping autistic students to ‘special’ chairs to prevent them from moving