On February 27, the House Committee on Education and Labor Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a hearing titled “Classrooms in Crisis: Examining the Inappropriate Use of Seclusion and Restraint Practices.” Witnesses were Dr. George Sugai, Professor, University of Connecticut; Mrs. Renee Smith of Rhode Island, the parent of a young child with autism spectrum disorder who experienced frequent restraint and seclusion; Ms. Allison Sutton, Special Education Teacher, Wichita Public Schools; and Ms. Jacqueline Nowicki, Director of Education Workforce and Income Security, Government Accountability Office (GAO). The Arc worked with its state office in Rhode Island to recruit the parent witness and support her testimony.
Visit the Committee website for more information and to access archived video of the hearing. This hearing took place in anticipation of the reintroduction of the Keeping All Students Safe Act in the coming weeks. The Arc greatly appreciates the Subcommittee’s effort to bring needed attention to the harmful and unnecessary practices of restraint and seclusion, which are disproportionately used on students with disabilities. The Arc also appreciates Mrs. Smith’s willingness to tell her family’s story about their difficult, but ultimately successful, experience in obtaining the proper supports in school.
On November 14, Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Robert Scott (D-VA), and 34 other co-sponsors introduced the Keeping All Student Safe Act (H.R. 7124). A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Patty Murray (D-WA). These bills would prohibit physical restraint that is life-threatening or restricts breathing, mechanical restraint, chemical restraint, and seclusion in schools that receive federal funding. Physical restraint would only be allowed when a student’s behavior poses an imminent danger to self or others and less restrictive interventions would be ineffective. The bills require states to ensure schools have personnel trained to safely restrain students in those circumstances. Additionally, they prohibit individualized education programs or behavior intervention plans from including provisions allowing the use of restraint or seclusion. The Arc strongly supports this legislation and looks forward to working with sponsors in further refining the bill in the 116th Congress.
The Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions, and Seclusion (APRAIS) sponsored a Congressional Briefing to mark the introduction of the bills. Speakers included Representative Don Beyer (D-VA); Annie Acosta, Director of Fiscal and Family Support Policy, The Arc; Denise Marshall, Executive Director, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates; Amanda Lowe, Senior Policy Analyst, National Disability Rights Network; Dr. Joe Ryan, Stanzione Distinguished Professor of special education, Clemson University; Kimberly Sanders, President, Ukeru Systems; and Alex Campbell, a student and self-advocate who was subjected to restraint and seclusion. Learn more at stophurtingkids.com.
An updated report on state laws and regulations related to the prevention of restraints and seclusion in schools has just been published. Jessica Butler, who coordinates Congressional affairs for the Autism National Committee, has been tracking the issue since 2009. The report includes a highlighted map showing states that have meaningful protections for children. As of this report, only 22 states have such protections for all students, and only 34 provide such protections for students with disabilities. In February, Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act (HR 927) to provide minimum federal standards on restraint, seclusion, and aversive interventions. Get involved in the campaign to prevent restraint and seclusion at http://stophurtingkids.com/.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), TASH, and The Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion (APRAIS), in conjunction with the Congressional Black Caucus Education & Labor Taskforce, sponsored a congressional briefing on June 24 on the detrimental effects of restraint and seclusion in schools. Filmmaker Dan Habib shared an excerpt from his film, Restraint and Seclusion: Hear Our Stories. Panelists described their personal experiences with restraint and seclusion and voiced their support for the Keeping All Students Safe Act (S.2036 / H.R. 1893), bills introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative George Miller (D-CA) to set minimum federal standards. These bills would ensure that children in all states are given equal protection from dangerous practices and create a cultural shift toward preventive, positive intervention strategies. This event kicked off a series of meetings with Congressional offices, in which The Arc is participating, in support of the bills. To learn more and view the complete film, please visit Stop Hurting Kids.
The Arc urges all advocates to participate in the June 12 national call in day to support the Keeping All Students Safe Act, the restraint and seclusion bills (S. 2036 and HR 1893) introduced by Senator Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Miller (D-CA), respectively. Restraint and seclusion have resulted in numerous serious injuries and fatalities and are disproportionately used on students with disabilities. The day is being planned in collaboration with the national Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), the Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion (APRAIS), and other coalitions. Congress must hear from parents, people with disabilities, students, advocates, professionals, friends, families, and neighbors regarding this important legislation! See our Action Alert for more details.
The Arc urges all advocates to participate in the June 12 national call-in day to support the Keeping All Students Safe Act legislation to prevent restraint and seclusion (S. 2036 and HR 1893), introduced by Senator Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Miller (D-CA), respectively. This legislation will prohibit the use of physical restraint unless a student’s behavior poses an imminent danger of physical harm to self or others, while ensuring that personnel receive proper training, that parents are aware of any restraint used with their children, and that the most dangerous types of restraint and seclusion are eliminated. Restraint and Seclusion have resulted in numerous serious injuries and fatalities and are disproportionately used on students with disabilities.
The day is being planned in collaboration with the national Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), the Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion (APRAIS), and other coalitions. Congress must hear from parents, people with disabilities, students, advocates, professionals, friends, families, and neighbors regarding this important legislation! Stay tuned for the action alert.
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) introduced the Keeping All Kids Safe Act. (More information, including a summary of the bill, is available here.) The bill would ban seclusion and severely restrict the use of restraint on school children. Senator Harkin also released an investigative report that found families often are not informed about the use of restraint and seclusion on their children. Those who learn about the practices and whose children are harmed by the use of restraint or seclusion have little or no recourse through school procedures or the courts. A main focus of the bill is to provide training to school personnel on the use of positive, supportive, and safe techniques when challenging behaviors do occur. To read The Arc’s statement, visit our blog.
The Arc and numerous advocacy organizations have launched a new campaign called “Stop Hurting Kids” with the goal of getting federal legislation passed to ensure that all students are safe in school. The campaign includes a website where people can sign up for email alerts and action items. The website has a link to a video that features first-person accounts from children and families of the physical and emotional harm suffered after being restrained and secluded in school. There is information on the website about H.R. 1893, Keeping all Students Safe Act. And finally, there are tips about how to use social media to support the campaign to keep all students safe in school.
Congressman George Miller (D-CA), ranking member of the House Education & Workforce Committee, and Congressman Gregg Harper (R-MS) introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act, H.R. 1893. The bill would ban restraint and seclusion except in emergency situations where there is a threat of imminent physical danger. It would require schools to inform parents on the same day if their child were restrained or secluded. Mechanical and chemical restraints would be prohibited as would physical restraints that impede breathing. The bill would promote positive behavioral alternatives for all children, require schools to collect data about the use of restraint and seclusion, and require training for school staff. The Arc supports the legislation.
A news story about abusive restraint and seclusion practices in schools aired on Nightline, an ABC News program. During the story, the narrator pointed out that only a few states have laws that regulate the use of restraint and seclusion. The story is a potent reminder about why The Arc supports S. 2020 and HR.1381, the Keeping All Students Safe Act.