Senator Harkin’s Keeping All Students Safe Act

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act, S. 2020, right before the holiday break. The bill is a companion to the House bill, HR 1381, that was introduced last year by Rep. George Miller (D-CA). Both bills would prohibit use of mechanical restraints, chemical restraints, or physical restraints that restrict breathing. The use of seclusion or restraint could not be included in a student’s IEP. Physical restraint would be allowed only in emergency situations and would require debriefing sessions with parents and staff. S 2020 has no sponsors at this time; HR 1381 has 28 co-sponsors, one of whom is a Republican. Senator Harkin is seeking bipartisan support.

Senator Harkin introduces bill to protect students from seclusion and restraint practices

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced S. 2020, the Keeping All Students Safe Act, a bill to protect students from ineffective and dangerous seclusion and restraint practices in schools. The bill would prohibit locked and unattended seclusion, mechanical and chemical restraints, and physical restraints that restrict breathing. Physical restraints could only be used in emergency situations and could not be included in a student’s individual education program (IEP) or any other behavioral plan. Schools would have to conduct a debriefing with parents and the staff after restraint is used and states would be required to collect and report data on the occurrence of restraint and seclusion. The House passed a similar bill in 2010 that did not get any traction in the Senate. The Arc joined several other advocacy organizations in support of the bill.

Restraint and seclusion bill introduced in House

The Keeping all Students Safe Act (H.R. 1381) was introduced by Representative George Miller (D-CA). This bill would prohibit mechanical or chemical restraint or physical restraints that restrict breathing or aversive behavioral intervention that compromises student health and safety. It would allow the use of physical restraint only if a student’s behavior were a threat to self or others. It would prohibit including the use of seclusion or restraint into a student’s individual education plan (IEP). Finally, it would require schools to train staff, set minimum standards and collect data about the use of restraint or seclusion in schools. This bill is very similar to the bill Representative Miller introduced during the last Congress. That bill passed the House but was not considered by the Senate. To read more about the bill, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:h.r.01381:/