Though federal efforts to restrict the use of restraint and seclusion in schools have stagnated, an analysis finds a growing number of states have implemented laws to curtail the practices.

Laws are on the books in 22 states regulating educators’ use of restraint and seclusion with students while 34 states have protections in place specific to kids with disabilities, according to a new report from The Autism National Committee.

That’s up significantly from 2009. At that time, laws covering all students were in effect in nine states, while 21 restricted the use of restraint and seclusion for students with disabilities.

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Among the states where laws are in place, however, the rules vary greatly, according to Jessica Butler, congressional affairs coordinator for The Autism National Committee, who produced the report.

In some states, for example, seclusion is forbidden, while policies in others prohibit the practice except in emergency situations. Similarly, some states ban prone restraint while others do not. (Read all of Disability Scoop’s coverage of restraint and seclusion »)

The shift toward increased legislation in the states follows intense advocacy at the federal level to impose first-ever national oversight on the use of restraint and seclusion in schools. In 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation on the issue, but the bill failed to gain traction in the Senate.

“The congressional bills have created a strong conversation about these dangerous practices — and led to action,” Butler told Disability Scoop. “But today, America remains a country where moving down the highway or across a river into a new state means a student loses protections from these dangerous practices.”

Most recently, U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., introduced legislation in the House in February that would limit restraint and seclusion in schools, but no companion bill currently exists in the Senate.

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