Wisconsin’s legislature will consider a law restricting how students are restrained or secluded, a second attempt at such a law after a bill proposed in 2011 failed to pass.
Reforming how restraint and seclusion are used, or banning them altogether, has been the focus of new laws and regulations around the country, and Congress has proposed legislation to address the issue as well.
A U.S. Government Accountability Office study in 2009 about the use of the measures found some horrific scenarios, many involving students with disabilities. In one case, a 7-year-old died after being held face down for hours by school staff. A 13-year-old reportedly hung himself in a seclusion room after being confined for hours.
The Wisconsin law mirrors some of the provisions in other states. For example, in cases where a student must be isolated, the law would require a school employee to supervise the student constantly, and the student would have to have access to a bathroom, water, medication, and meals. Some types of restraints, including those that cause chest compression or put pressure on a student’s head or neck, or involve giving students drugs, would be banned outright.
The bill, sponsored by the state senate’s education committee chair, has the support of state Superintendent Tony Evers. As the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported, the state education agency worked to get support for the bill from groups that had previously been hesitant, including educators who believe it is occasionally necessary to restrain a child.
A version of this article appeared in the January 25, 2012 edition of Education Week as Wis. Bill Would Limit Student Restraints