The leading Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives’ education committee has reintroduced a bill to limit physical restraint and locked seclusion of students.
The Keeping All Students Safe Act, which passed the House more than a year ago, but not the Senate, would restrict the use of restraints and seclusion to cases in which the student or someone else is in imminent danger of injury, and only when imposed by trained staff.
It also would outlaw mechanical restraints, including strapping children to chairs; prohibit restraints that restrict breathing; require schools to notify parents when restraint or seclusion is used; and encourage states to provide support and training to better protect students and prevent the need for emergency interventions.
According to a 2009 report by the Government Accountability Office, “thousands” of public and private school students were restrained or secluded during the previous academic year, but the report did not specify an overall number. Self reporting showed that in Texas alone, 4,202 students were restrained a total of 18,741 times.
While there are federal laws governing restraints for hospitals, other health providers, and other community-based facilities that receive federal funding, nothing in federal law currently restricts their use in schools.
A version of this article appeared in the April 20, 2011 edition of Education Week as Federal Bill on Restraints, Seclusion Resurrected