Teaching

Proposed Federal Law Would Regulate the Use of Restraint and Seclusion

December 09, 2009 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Members of Congress today introduced legislation to regulate the use of restraint and seclusion on students in schools, and require any use of such practices to be reported to parents.

The proposed law would establish the first federal safety standards in schools for the use of restraint and seclusion, similar to rules in place in hospitals and non-medical community-based facilities. Regulations on the practices of restraint and seclusion vary from state to state.

A Government Accountability Office report in May found allegations that children had been abused, or even died, because of misuse of restraint and seclusion in schools. Many of the children on whom these practices are used are students with disabilities. The practices are meant to be used in emergencies when students are a danger to themselves or others.

U.S. Reps. George Miller, D-Calif., and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., proposed the bill in the House, and Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., proposed a similar law in the Senate.

“Something is very wrong when our children are at risk in their own classrooms,” Miller, the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, who requested the GAO’s investigation, said in a statement to reporters. “In some cases, the abuses these kids are suffering are nothing short of torture inflicted at the hands of the very staff we entrust with their safety. Today is a critical first step toward finally ending this nightmare of abuse and ensuring that all classrooms are safe for students, their teachers, and the entire school communities.”

The law would ban the use of mechanical restraints, such as strapping kids to chairs, and prohibit restraints that restrict breathing. It would prohibit the use of medications to control behavior that were not administered consistent with prescriptions from a doctor. It would ban staff members from denying students water, food, clothing, or access to toilet facilities to control behavior. States would be required to report the use of restraint and seclusion to the U.S. Secretary of Education, according to the House Education and Labor Committee.

States would have two years to develop policies, procedures, and monitoring and enforcement systems to meet the minimum federal safety standards. Federal funds could be withheld from states that do not meet the requirements, the committee Web site said.

Advocacy groups cheered the proposed law.

“There is a long history of students with disabilities being subjected to inappropriate and abusive seclusions and restraints,” Ari Ne-eman of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, said in a statement. “The legislation introduced today is the first of its kind, going far beyond previous efforts to protect students with disabilities.

A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.

Events

Reading & Literacy Webinar A Roadmap to Multisensory Early Literacy Instruction: Accelerate Growth for All Students 
How can you develop key literacy skills with a diverse range of learners? Explore best practices and tips to meet the needs of all students. 
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
Supporting 21st Century Skills with a Whole-Child Focus
What skills do students need to succeed in the 21st century? Explore the latest strategies to best prepare students for college, career, and life.
Content provided by Panorama Education
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum What Will It Take for Schools to Get Better?
Find out what educators and leaders can do to incite lasting and productive change that will make a difference in the lives of students.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Opinion Summer School Reminded Me Why I Love Teaching
I didn’t feel prepared to teach a remedial ELL class. Then it turned into one of the best experiences of my career.
Violet T. Adams
4 min read
conceptual illustration of flowers growing from a student's mind
Johavel/iStock/Getty Images
Teaching Opinion 3 Steps Teachers Can Take to Value Students’ Marginalized Identities
Lower-income students have strengths that often go unrecognized. Here’s how to structure lesson plans that capitalize on them.
David M. Silverman
3 min read
Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.
Getty
Teaching Opinion Christopher Emdin, Gholdy Muhammad, and More Education Authors Offer Insights to the Field
Want to know about culturally responsive teaching? Teaching kids to thrive? Scores of interviews highlight those topics and more.
7 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Teaching Some Students Are Routinely Denied Challenging Work. The Pandemic Made That Worse
An increase in the use of lower-level reading passages threatens to exacerbate academic gaps.
4 min read
Rear view of elementary age students seated at their desks facing mid 40s Black teacher standing at chalkboard with focus on foreground boys.
E+/Getty