Duncan to states: Deal with restraint and seclusion issue
Late last week, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote to state chief education officers, urging them to "develop or review and, if appropriate, revise" their state policies relating to the restraint and seclusion of children in school.
Congress has held hearings on this matter lately, with horror stories emerging that "deeply troubled" Duncan.
"I encourage you to have your revised policies and guidance in place prior to the start of the 2009-2010 school year to help ensure that no child is subjected to the abusive or potentially deadly use of seclusion or restraint in a school," he wrote.
In the spring, Florida lawmakers rejected bills (SB 2480/ HB 1449) that would have tackled this thorny issue. But Florida Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith tells the Gradebook via e-mail that the state has taken steps to deal with it.
"We have reviewed the letter from Secretary Duncan and are pleased with his comments and direction on this important issue. Florida's Department of Education has been actively engaged in this topic since March 2008, listening carefully to the citizens of Florida and considering all facets of this subject. We have, as Secretary Duncan suggested, issued guidance on the use of physical restraint in special education programs and many of Florida's public schools already use the recommended approach of Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS).
We also continue to receive excellent feedback and clarity from the public through our rule development process. All students and staff in Florida's public schools should be confident that their classroom environment is safe, and we will continue to work diligently toward the purpose of clearly defining the acceptable methods that will continue to keep our schools safe for all students and school personnel."