Feds, Okaloosa School District Reach Settlement Over Child Abuse Allegations

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Okaloosa County school district have reached a settlement after an investigation into allegations of abuse and improper restraint and seclusion of children with disabilities.

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The department began the investigation in September 2020 based on allegations from as early as the 2015-2016 school year, according to the settlement. The allegations involved potential violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The settlement, signed Monday, said the district cooperated with the investigation.

“The purpose of this agreement is to address allegations of discrimination on the basis of disability in the use of seclusion and restraint and to further improve services to students with disabilities in the district,”

the settlement said.

“The United States recognizes that prior to the initiation of its investigation, the district had already taken steps to strengthen its provision of services to students with disabilities; address its implementation of restraint and seclusion; and respond to allegations of physical and verbal abuse of students by district employees.”

The settlement calls for a series of steps, such as revamping practices related to the use of restraint and bolstering training for staff members.

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