Federal bill addresses restraint and seclusion in schools
Schools nationwide would have to stop restraining or secluding students -- in most cases, special-education students -- unless there is imminent danger of injury, and beef up training of staff who use those procedures under a bill filed in Congress today. The legislation comes in the wake of a national report on the subject that cited cases in Florida, and it comes as a state Department of Education effort to limit restraint and seclusion has been put on hold.
The bill would also require states to annually collect and report restrain and seclusion data, and make it publicly available. It was filed by U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-California, the powerful chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, and committee member U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. The two penned an op-ed piece for CNN.com today that spells out their concern:
Local newspapers recount bone-chilling stories of schoolchildren tied to chairs, or with their mouths taped shut, sometimes locked in dark closets, or pinned to the floor for hours at a time. If parents treat their kids this way, it's considered a criminal offense. But unlike in hospitals and other institutions that receive federal taxpayer funding, there are no federal protections against these abusive practices when they happen in schools ...
The easy answer here would be to blame teaches. But it would be the wrong one. Ultimately the root of this problem has been our systemwide failure to provide direction and enforcement. As along as school systems continue to lack the tools they need to create good policies and properly train staff, these incidents will continue.
The FDOE had been working on "reasonable force" rule, as we've noted before. But a DOE spokesperson tells the Gradebook that work has stopped because state legislative action is expected on the issue. We think they're talking about HB 81.