Protecting Students with Disabilities
January 2010 – According to the House Committee on Education and Labor web site, a U.S. Government Accountability Office report released last spring detailed hundreds of cases of students being abused “as a result of inappropriate uses of restraint and seclusion, often involving untrained staff. In some cases, children died. A disproportionate number of these victims were students with disabilities.”
A bill banning school use of certain types of “restraint and seclusion” has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. George Miller (D-CA) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) have sponsored the measure, which:
- limits use of restraint and seclusion to instances involving “imminent danger “;
- restricts use of such measures to trained staff;
- bans mechanical restraints and methods that restrict breathing;
- prohibits use of medication to control behavior unless prescribed by a physician.
Miller plans to conduct hearings on the proposed legislation early this year. It is anticipated that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) will soon introduce a similar bill.
If the legislation is passed, schools would no longer be allowed to include restraint and seclusion as a behavior management method in Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). They would also be required to report any use of such techniques to parents.
States would be required to develop policies in compliance with national guidelines mandating improved staff training and development of better data collection for the purpose of public reporting.
We will continue to keep you updated on this important issue.