Florida lawmakers again seek to scale back restraint and seclusion of students with disabilities
Floridians long have criticized schools' use of restraint and seclusion in handling out-of-control students with disabilities. Rule changes have been discussed since 2009, to limited effect despite clear intentions.
State Sen. Anitere Flores, a Miami Republican, is ready to try again. Flores has filed SB 452 this week with very direct goals: It would ban all student seclusion, and limit restraint to times of imminent risk of serious injury or death.
"The Legislature finds that the majority of problem behaviors that are currently used to justify seclusion or restraint could be prevented with early identification and intensive early intervention," the bill's findings state. "The need for seclusion or restraint is, in part, a result of an insufficient investment in prevention efforts."
Flores has filed similar legislation in the past, only to see it die in committee. Federal lawmakers also have pushed for change, while use of the practices have fluctuated in Florida school districts. Some educators say the actions can be the only way to defuse situations, and should remain available.
Rep. Ray Wesley Rodrigues, an Estero Republican, has filed a similar bill (HB 209) in the House. Stay tuned to see if this year brings change.