A proposed class action has been filed against Pittsburgh Public Schools, a long-term substitute teacher, a former elementary school principal, and a school-based police officer on behalf of all students with disabilities who were allegedly handcuffed or restrained unlawfully by school police personnel. Filed on behalf of a pseudonymous minor by his mother and grandfather, the 31-page lawsuit seeks permanent injunctive relief to prohibit Pittsburgh Public Schools from allowing or employing the use of “unnecessary and excessive” physical restraint and/or handcuffing for all schoolchildren, including those with disabilities.
Citing alleged Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Rehabilitation Act violations, the complaint charges outright that Pittsburgh Public Schools has broken the law by failing to provide appropriate behavior supports and special education services to address proposed class members’ needs. Instead, the case alleges, the defendant relies on “inappropriate disciplinary procedures” and law enforcement in place of more suitable remedies. According to the lawsuit, children subject to handcuffing and other forms of excessive physical restraint have experienced pain, fear, and emotional trauma to go along with “an exacerbation of their disabilities.”