ST. LOUIS – A report listing school districts that may not be following the law, which the state claimed did not exist a day prior, has been released.

The eight-page document lists 359 public school districts and charter schools that have allegedly not reported any type of physical restraint or forced isolation, known as seclusion, on a student this school year. The file was released under the Missouri Sunshine Law.

Among those listed: St. Louis Public Schools. But FOX 2 has learned that’s not totally accurate.

George Sells, the director of communications and marketing for St. Louis Public Schools, said the district is in the process of reporting 11 cases of restraint and submitting reports to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has been slowed.

“In each case, parents of the students involved were notified by school officials in the time frame required by the new state law,” Sells wrote in a statement. “Our reports to DESE have been slowed by complications with the portal they have in place to receive information. We have been in continuous communication with DESE officials to work through this issue and get all required materials into the proper hands.”

Shealyn Fox’s son has post-traumatic stress disorder and has been forced to isolate at school before.

“Being grabbed, being held, even when it’s important for the other kids in school, even when it’s important for safety, it’s terrifying for them,” Fox said.

As of March 2023, 191 school districts have reported having at least one student physically restrained or isolated out of Missouri’s 556 public school districts and charter schools. That’s only 34%.

Julia Galluzzo, a retired educator, said the apparent lack of reporting is an issue.

“That’s cause for concern to dive into it a little deeper,” Galluzzo said. “Accountability is important. It’s a school. These are kids.”

Advocates worry students with disabilities are more likely to be restrained or secluded.

FOX 2 reached out to some other local schools on the state’s list, only to be told, they reported numbers months ago and didn’t know why they were on the state’s non-reporting list.

Special School District of St. Louis County Executive Director of Communications Jennifer Henry said it works with 22 county school districts to ensure that restraint/seclusion incidents are properly reported but the district has found a “reporting gap” with nine of their partner school districts, after FOX 2 reached out.

“To ensure that all data is captured correctly for SSD and our partner districts, we are reviewing practices and reinforcing procedures with our staff and in the partner districts,” Henry wrote. “Together with our partner districts, we will work with DESE to ensure that the data is updated and accurately reflected in DESE’s system.”

DESE Chief Communications Officer Mallory McGowin said the list provided was last updated April 10, 2023, and then directed FOX 2 to the Office of Data Systems Management for more up-to-date information.

“Reports of seclusion or restraint submitted by districts since April 10 are not reflected on this document,” McGowin said.

Some school districts on the list tell FOX 2 their reports of restraints or seclusions date back to November and December.

For a document that did not exist days ago, there’s certainly a cloud of confusion.

“There may be an emotional need not being reached, because we don’t even have the data to support what’s occurring with these kids – it’s terrifying,” Fox said.