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Monday, November 19, 2018

Lawmakers Revive Plan to Curb Restraint, Seclusion in Schools

From DisabilityScoop

By Michelle Diament
November 15, 2018

Legislation establishing first-ever federal oversight of restraint and seclusion in the nation’s schools is back on the table.

After winning a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats are
looking to pass legislation to limit the use of restraint and seclusion in schools.

Democrats in Congress introduced a bill known as the Keeping All Students Safe Act this week. The measure would bar seclusion at any school receiving federal tax dollars and significantly limit the use of restraint to situations where the safety of students and teachers is at risk.

“It’s barbaric for schools to confine students alone in locked rooms, or to use abusive methods to restrain little children. Treating school kids this way should not be tolerated in America. Period,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a sponsor of the legislation. “Our bill would establish strong federal standards to keep students safe, while giving school staff alternatives to respond to challenging situations in the right way.”

The move comes little more than a week after Democrats secured control of the House of Representatives in the coming legislative session and signals that they will use their new majority status in the body to press for the legislation.

Data released earlier this year by the Department of Education indicates that 122,000 students were subject to restraint or seclusion in the nation’s schools during the 2015-2016 academic year. Children with disabilities accounted for 71 percent of those restrained and 66 percent of seclusion cases.

At present, rules governing the practices vary significantly from one state to the next.

Legislation to create federal standards on the use of restraint and seclusion in schools passed the House in 2010 but failed to secure support in the Senate.

The latest bill was introduced this week in the House by Reps. Don Beyer, D-Va., and Bobby Scott, D-Va., the top Democrat on the House education committee. A Senate version of the bill was introduced by Murphy and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the lead Democrat on the Senate education committee.

In addition to ending seclusion and curtailing the use of restraint, the measure would require training for any school staff members who restrain students, ensure that restraint could not be used as a planned intervention and mandate that parents be notified if their child is subject to the practice, among other changes.

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