More than 350 parents of special needs children as young as four have joined a campaign for stricter laws amid claims of excessive force.
DISABLED kids suffered broken teeth, burst blood vessels and bruising while being restrained by school staff to make them behave, horrified families say.
Workers are also accused of putting a terrified youngster in a seclusion area — a bare, locked room with no toilet, heating or toys.
Mum Beth Morrison, 51 — whose son returned from class with severe bruising around his body and haemorrhaging on his chest — said: “We banned corporal punishment in schools 30 years ago but schools have brought it back illicitly for the most vulnerable children.
“We’ve had reliable reports of a four year old among those held face down on the floor. It’s barbaric.
“In any other place — at home, in a shop, on the streets — a child being manhandled and brutalised like that by a parent would rightly lead to criminal charges. Yet children come home from school covered in bruises, with broken teeth and other injuries and the school claims the child had to be restrained and that’s lawful? It just isn’t right.”
Families have shared harrowing tales on a private social media support group.
Many fear being named after schools and council chiefs allegedly warned there would be “consequences” if complaints were shared in public. And they say cops are reluctant to investigate.
Beth’s son Calum — who has epilepsy and cerebral palsy and is on the autistic spectrum — was 11 when he was injured during an incident involving staff at Kingspark special school in Dundee. The lad, now a young adult, also wet himself, leading his parents to fear he may have passed out.
When details emerged, the couple claim they were told that the “necessary” procedure did not breach school rules.
Another mum told how her son, who can walk short distances, was strapped in a wheelchair against his wishes by Kingspark staff to make it easier for them.
And he came home with broken front teeth followed an alleged restraint more than three years ago.
The school is said to have apologised on one occasion as the lad was wet.
His parents accused staff of putting him outside in his wheelchair as a “time-out” technique, but it started to rain.
Another autistic boy, now aged eight, was allegedly placed in isolation dozens of times at a mainstream primary school in Aberdeenshire, with no access to a loo.
It’s claimed he wet himself on numerous occasions and was once left with no choice but to defecate in the room.
His mum, who now teaches him at home, complained to cops but was told there was insufficient evidence. She claimed council chiefs eventually apologised for using restraint without telling her and for staff picking up her son, who has a sensory processing disorder, against her instructions on how to handle him.
The appalled mum also says staff admitted the isolation room was used many times but denied locking him in.
Another little boy with autism suffered long-term damage to his nose after it was repeatedly twisted by a member of staff at a different school to make him “back off”, it is alleged.
Parents told how chiefs argued it was a “justifiable physical intervention”.
Beth, one of seven administrators who run the support group, said the Scottish Government had since issued clearer guidelines to schools on restraining and isolating youngsters but insisted they still fell short.
She added: “We just want children with disabilities to have their human rights upheld. They’re using it as a first resort, not a last one, and we have to challenge it.
“These are not large and unruly teenagers who are out of control. They are typically very small children, often with no words or very little language and hardly able to communicate, and are often frightened by the school environment.”
A Holyrood spokesman last night insisted the decision to restrain schoolkids should not be taken lightly and all incidents must be recorded and monitored.
He added: “Physical intervention should only ever be used as a last resort, in the best interests of the child, and never used for disciplinary purposes.”
But children’s commissioner Bruce Adamson reckons the revamped guidance misses the point. He said: “There are numerous alternatives to restraint, such as positive behaviour support.
“We need a culture change where the communication needs of disabled children are better understood and where restraint is only ever used as a last resort.”
Tory further education spokesman Oliver Mundell said: “These are clearly very serious and challenging circumstances for the youngsters, parents and teachers.
“It would appear there is some distance between what the parents expect and what is being delivered. It’s essential we listen carefully to parents and staff to work out a better way of doing things for these vulnerable young people.”
Dundee City Council insisted progress had been made at Kingspark since an action plan was drawn up following an independent review nearly three years ago — and revealed new policies will be implemented from August.
A spokesman said: “Earlier this year, Education Scotland published a report which highlighted ‘significant improvements’ and inspectors commented that ‘there is a strong focus on ensuring the wellbeing of children and young people’.”
An Aberdeenshire Council spokesman said: “The complaint was investigated thoroughly and we arranged for the matter to be looked at by an independent body. This process is ongoing.”