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.