Court Lifts Injunction On ‘Aversive Treatment’ Ban

     NEW YORK (CN) – The 2nd Circuit vacated an injunction preventing New York from restricting the use of “aversive therapies” on special-needs students, including skin shocks, “contingent” food programs and physical restraints.

     Staff members at the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JRC) in Canton, Mass., use aversive treatment when positive reinforcement and other methods fail. Even then, it must be done with the written consent of parents and guardians.
     But when the parent of a former JRC student sued over the practice, the New York State Education Department issued an emergency regulation banning aversive methods.
     A group of parents and guardians challenged the regulation, claiming the aversive therapy helped their children as part of an integrated behavioral treatment program.
     The appeals court acknowledged that the injunction was supported by scant evidence, and that there was “substantial support” showing students benefit from aversive treatments.
     “In the end, however, an inadequately documented preliminary injunction burdens the reviewing court and delays the progress of the case toward an anticipated trial, where the serious issues at play in this case may be finally resolved,” the court concluded.
     Vacated and remanded.

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