The Associated Press (AP) reports in The Washington Post that the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions recently convened a hearing on the use of restraint and seclusion to raise awareness of how much physical force is used when disciplining students. The Committee is considering a bill, S. 2020, that calls for restraining or secluding students only if they might physically injure other students.
In March 2012, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) published a study that estimated 38,792 cases of seclusion or restraint during the 2009-2010 school year. Sixty-nine percent of those cases involved students with disabilities. The study found that African-American and Hispanic students with disabilities were more likely to be subjected to restraint.
Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act in December 2011, said the bill might not gain enough congressional support this year. He said he plans to re-introduce it. “I’m hopeful that as more people know that restraint and seclusion don’t lead to positive outcomes, we will get the support we need,” Harkin said. “We have enough evidence from a lot of different states that show that not only can this be done, but it should be done because you have better, positive outcomes and it actually costs less money.”
Daniel Crimmins, Director of the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University, praised a new Georgia law that bans seclusion and limits the use of restraint. Crimmins said the law has allowed teachers “serving with the most significant behavioral challenges” to learn “alternative ways to support these students” without the use of physical force.
Source: The Washington Post, 7/12/12, By AP
[Editor's Note: In March 2012, Legal Clips summarized an article in Education Week, which reported on the ED study mentioned in the AP article above. According to Education Week, ED had collected data showing that, nationwide, school employees use isolation (seclusion) and restraint techniques disproportionately on disabled students, especially disabled African-American students.
In July 2010, Legal Clips summarized an AP article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which reported that the Georgia State Board of Education (GBOE) had voted to prohibit the practice of placing students in solitary confinement, also known as seclusion. GBOE’s new rule also limits the use of restraint to calm misbehaving students in the classroom and, for the first time, requires schools to parents when their children are restrained by teachers and other school officials.]