Advocacy | Restraint & Seclusion in School Bill

Restraint & Seclusion in School Bill

Keeping All Students Safe Act

After much deliberation, CHADD is supporting the passage of Senate bill S.2020, the Keeping All Students Safe Act. The legislation responds to a critical need to have national standards on the use of seclusion and/or restraints in our schools. The bill would prohibit the use of mechanical and chemical restraints, limit the use of restraints to emergencies and only when less restrictive measures have failed (a two-part requirement), and outline the termination of seclusion/restraints as well as parental notification. The Senate version of the bill differs from the House version in allowing seclusion/restraints to be included as interventions in a child’s IEP plan under certain circumstances. CHADD would prefer the legislation did not include this provision, but feels the benefits of the bill outweigh these concerns. Once passed, differences between the House and Senate versions would be resolved in a conference committee with members of both houses. We hope at this time that the House version would prevail.

Updated June 28, 2012

Status of Regulating Restraint and Seclusion in Schools

CHADD has been actively supporting COPAA, NDRN, TASH, autism consumer and family groups, and others on the position that restraint and seclusion should not be a planned intervention in an IEP. Restraint and seclusion are emergency responses to crisis behavioral situations, while an IEP is a planned sequence of educational and related accommodations to assist students to learn. IEPs can be supplemented with behavioral intervention plans that rely on trained staff to de-escalate crisis situations without relying on restraint and seclusion.

Read the statement below from Tricia and Calvin Luker on the status of this legislation.

Posted August 6, 2010

Eye On The Prize: Keeping All Students Safe

Parents, parent advocates and self-advocates, attorneys, educators and medical/mental health professionals throughout the United States have been working for years to create federal legislation that would prohibit the use of seclusion and restraints throughout America’s schools. We have expended this effort because we have seen the effects of thousands of instances where children who expect us to protect them have been hurt or killed by being secluded or restrained. We are acting to protect the children.

On December 9, 2009 we achieved our first hint of success when the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act was introduced in the US House of Representatives by Congressman George Miller of California and in the US Senate by Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut. The House bill, now renamed, “The Keeping All Students Safe Act” has passed the House and been sent to the Senate. The Senate bill remains pending before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions [HELP].

Why do we need this bill? The primary reason we need a federal law prohibiting the use of seclusion and restraint is because many states currently have no prohibition against the use of seclusion and restraints, while other states have individual legislation regulating the use of seclusion and restraint without uniform enforcement provisions or federal reporting requirements. Without federal legislation ALL American children are at risk of injury and death from the use of restraint/seclusion. Here are the provisions as passed by the House in The Keeping All Students Safe Act:

  • Mechanical Restraints: Prohibits
  • Chemical Restraints: Prohibits
  • Restraints that Interfere with Breathing: Prohibits
  • Restraint/Seclusion in IEP: Prohibits as a “planned intervention.”
  • Allow seclusion/restraint use only if there is an emergency AND if less restrictive measures would not work (a 2-part requirement): Sets this two-step standard. First, there must be an emergency presenting imminent danger of physical injury to self or others. Second, if less restrictive measures would resolve the problem, R/S cannot be used.
  • Monitoring children in seclusion/restraints: Requires face-to-face monitoring unless unsafe for staff and then direct, continuous visual monitoring required.
  • Terminating the use of seclusion/restraint: The restraining or seclusion must end when the emergency ends.
  • Use of aversives: Prohibits aversives that compromise health or safety.
  • Parental notification if child is restrained/secluded: Requires same day verbal/electronic notification of parents and written notification within 24 hours of each incident.

The bills as passed by the House and as introduced in the Senate permit the Secretary of the Department of Education to withhold funding for those districts that violate the provisions of the bills. They also extend the power of the state Protection and Advocacy systems to investigate instances of unlawful use of seclusion or restraint.

House Holds Hearing and GAO Issues Report

On May 19, 2009, the House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee held a hearing, Examining the Abusive and Deadly Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Schools. The hearing complemented a General Accountability Office (GAO) report, Selected Cases of Death and Abuse at Public and Private Schools and Treatment Centers, also issued on May 19.

The GAO report validates the facts and circumstances surrounding ten selected cases of restraint and seclusion in U.S. schools. At the hearing, Gregory D. Kutz highlighted three of the cases, including the case of Christopher. A nine-year old male diagnosed with ADHD, Christopher was reportedly secluded in a time-out room more than 75 times during a six-month period for such behaviors as making noises, chewing on his shirt, and fidgeting in class. Although the room was not locked, staff repeatedly held its door shut.

Currently, there is no federal law that governs the use of restraint and seclusion in schools. Chairman George Miller (D-CA) stated affirmatively that keeping children safe “is not a partisan issue, but a moral issue.”

Updated June 28, 2012