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School Restraint, Seclusion Bill Introduced In Congress


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Lawmakers are renewing their push to enact first-ever federal legislation regulating the use of restraint and seclusion in the nation’s schools.

A bill reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday would limit use of restraint and seclusion in schools, prohibiting the practices altogether except in cases where there is imminent danger of physical injury. The measure would also put in place requirements for staff training and parent notification.

“Without Congressional action, children will continue to suffer from these abusive practices,” said U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., who is sponsoring the bill. “This legislation would make practices such as duct-tapping children to chairs or restricting a child’s breathing illegal. It makes it very clear that there is no room for torture and abuse in America’s schools.”

A series of government and disability advocacy group reports in recent years have documented widespread abuse and even deadly consequences from restraint and seclusion in schools. The techniques are most frequently used on students with disabilities, the reports found. (Read all of Disability Scoop’s coverage of restraint and seclusion »)

As of 2010, the U.S. Department of Education reported that rules and regulations governing the practices vary wildly by state with some jurisdictions offering neither laws nor guidance to schools on the issue.

Legislation to establish national standards was approved by the House in 2010, but ultimately was not taken up in the U.S. Senate. Since then, proponents of the measure — including dozens of disability advocacy organizations — have struggled to rally sufficient support for the bill to be seriously reconsidered.

Currently, the measure faces an uphill battle. U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., who chairs the House Education and the Workforce Committee, has previously indicated that he believes federal intervention on this issue could bring more harm than good.

“No committee action has been scheduled on the legislation at this time,” Kline’s spokeswoman Alexandra Haynes Sollberger told Disability Scoop this week.

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Comments (6 Responses)

  1. Rich Slettvet says:

    One would hope that before voting on such a bill the legislators would spend a couple of days observing in an overcrowded (due to inadequate funding from Congress) EBD classroom.

  2. Julie Worley says:

    Proposed Federal Bill “Keeping ALL Students Safe in Schools Act” FAILS to Abolish School Corporal Pain Punishment, hitting children with wooden boards to inflict pain, discriminatorily administered to disabled students K-12 in taxpayer funded schools legally in 19 U.S. States today. See “Impairing Education” by ACLU and Human Rights Watch. As of May 2013 No Re-Introduction of proposed Federal Bill H.R. 3027 “The Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act”, cost $0, due to lack of Federal Lawmaker Sponsors, yet Federal Law Prohibits Corporal Punishment in ALL U.S. Prisons!

  3. SarahR says:

    As a mother of a high functioning autistic child I must admit I am grateful that my child is getting ready to leave the school system. The thought that if my son would have a “melt down” and could be put in to restraints appalls me, because I don’t feel that would be helping him instead it would further aggravate his frustrations! That the school system wants to bring back these regulations I feel is there way to deal with the shortage of staff and this would be there way to deal with “unnecessary issues”. Child is giving them problems, then lets restrain them! This is not helping a child with a disability and definitely is not providing a safe and healthy environment for the child either. The budget in school systems have been cut left and right so they have aides, who were there to assist with children who had disabilities. Maybe if we start looking at hiring educated aides then we wouldn’t have to RESTRAIN OUR KIDS! How many aides have been found slapping our kids on tape? Now imagine how many haven’t been caught? Our children deserve respect as well? Maybe if we restrain some school administrators for an hour or two lets see how they would feel?

  4. pat m says:

    Thanks, Rich. You hit the nail on the head! Legislate what the heck those working with difficult students are supposed to do please. There is already a huge bias against medicating people so please come up with some suggestions for those trying to make a difference should do. We are trying positive motivation whenever we can but there is such insufficient funding this is again an area where teachers and health care workers have to use their own money.

  5. todd lissner says:

    this bill is more important then many others there working on and should be passed quickly.

  6. Jane Sawyer says:

    I am an Adminsitrator in a private school in Maine that serves students with combined developmental disabilities and psyciatric diagnosis. We have State law that requires staff to be trained in restraint and seclusion techniques. Part of the training includes de-escalation techniques. I can’t imagine such training not being required nation wide. I view being able to safely restrain our students when they are in danger of hurting themselves or others as essential to their successful treatment. The lack of laws that frame a process for responsible restraint practices nation wide puts this practice in jeopardy, since citizens are more likely to react to a situation in which restraint was poorly implemented than to recognize its value in helping students gain control of their own behavior in a responsible manner.

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