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Restraints Conducted Illegally at New Glarus School District


January 2, 2020

Dear Editor,

Death of a 13-year-old autistic child from being illegally restrained by school staff. On November 13th, 2018, Max Benson, a child with autism, was restrained face down for nearly two hours until he vomited and then passed out at his school in northern California, Guiding Hands. This leads to the question, does illegal restraint and seclusion happen here in Wisconsin? Sadly, the answer in the New Glarus School District is a confirmed yes.

Multiple restraints conducted illegally by the New Glarus Middle School Principal and staff were done to my daughter per DPI IDEAS Complaint 19-053. During the 2018-2019 school year, DPI found the New Glarus Special Education School District restrained her over 27 times and secluded illegally three times. You would figure with reports printed on June 3rd, 2019, and emails given daily to my wife and I the numbers would be accurately reported to the New Glarus School Board. However, on July 15th, the Director of Special Education, Middle School Principal and Superintendent presented to the New Glarus School Board that the Special Education department and staff secluded students with disabilities 0 times and restrained 27. I stood at the beginning of the board meeting and informed the New Glarus School Board that the seclusion and restraint numbers were incorrect and had evidence that could prove my claim. The New Glarus School Board President stated, “We do not want your evidence, keep it.” The Superintendent presented the fraudulent numbers and the school board accepted them. I have gone to the New Glarus School Board a total of four times, July, August, September and November, asking for the school board to investigate the mistreatment of my daughter and the fraudulent reporting of the seclusion and restrain numbers. To this day, no member of the school board has contacted me or members of my family to resolve the matter.

After I filed a complaint against the New Glarus School District on behalf of my daughter, who was at the time a thirteen-year-old female with Down Syndrome, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) found on September 26, 2018, that my daughter had been put into seclusion. Since the room was not free of objects, and the door was capable of being locked the DPI found that this was a form of illegal seclusion. A student incident report completed by district staff indicates my daughter was secluded in the small resource room for 30 minutes.

Illegal restraints were also used on October 22, 2018, as two teachers held my daughter down on her desk, extending each arm out, and forced her to stay on her desk. Teachers reported in their daily note that she was in tears after they were done. The “threat” that she presented was that she did not listen to the teacher giving commands to her. As it turns out, my daughter suffers from low tone hearing loss and may simply not have heard the teacher’s instructions.

Per daily notes on October 24, 2018, my daughter wanted to use the bathroom and was “physically prompted” to put her head down on her desk multiple times until she was calm, minutes of this activity went on and she was not able to use the bathroom until finally calm. When she was able to use the bathroom the Director of Special Education stated the student “took her time conducting her business.” The Director gave my daughter plenty of “look at me and do you understand,” the Director was close enough where my daughter was able to kick the Director while on the toilet. Then the Director and another staff member removed her against her will from the bathroom, my daughter resisted so much the staff members had to “tighten and retighten their grip” on her in order to take her to a “timeout room,” where she was placed face down onto a table and forced to stay there until she was calm. While in the timeout room she hit the teacher and was forced to apologize for hitting the teacher and did so with tears in her eyes.

Another example of illegal restraint per DPI came from the Middle School Principal. On February 8th, after my daughter was dragged to “her office” by two teachers for pushing her chair back from her desk, the Principal was called to assist. Upon seeing two teachers struggle with my daughter to go into “her office” (which roughly the size of a utility closet) he was hit by my daughter. He then grabbed her by one arm, forced her down onto her belly by pushing on her back, while another teacher held out her arm rendering my daughter defenseless. After one minute of this illegal restraint, the Principal threatened her, “if you continue to act up, we are going to do this again.” Five minutes later my daughter was reported to have “acted up” and the Principal put the student to the floor again, while the other teacher held out one arm while the other was held by the Principal. However, this time, the third teacher covered my daughter with a weighted blanket, and my daughter started to scream for help, but none came.

Is this how we are to teach children “The Knight way is the right way”?

Joshua Rabel,



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