Students with and without disabilities have for too long faced a situation where they must fear physical violence, injury and even death as a result of aversives, restraint and seclusion at school. We believe that school should be a place of learning, not a place of fear. This action alert is to promote the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act, which represents a crucial step forward for students with disabilities in particular, who are the most vulnerable to these practices, and fulfills a key provision of the Justice for All Action Network Joint Campaign Agenda, calling on Congress to pass comprehensive legislation addressing the use of restraint, seclusion and aversives. Amongst the valuable provisions of this legislation are:
* A prohibition on the use of restraint and seclusion in schools unless a student’s behavior poses an immediate danger of physical injury and less restrictive interventions would be ineffective.
* A prohibition on the use of any mechanical restraint, chemical restraint, or physical restraint that restricts air flow to the lungs, and any other aversive behavioral intervention that compromises health and safety.
* A requirement for adequate training for school personnel imposing restraint and seclusion.
* A requirement for immediate parental notification and a school debriefing following each incident of restraint or seclusion.
* A requirement for states to create a state plan that incorporates the minimum standards and report annually on the number of incidents of restraint and seclusion.
I am writing to request your support for the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (H.R. 4247/S.2860). This legislation would limit the use of restraint and seclusion only in emergency situations where there is an immediate danger of physical injury and less restrictive means would be ineffective. It bans some of the worst practices and provides grants to encourage States to provide training to school staff.
There are currently no Federal rules restricting restraint and seclusion in schools, the place where children spend the most time. Reports from the Government Accountability Office, the National Disability Rights Network and other groups have detailed hundreds of abusive uses of restraint and seclusion by school staff, including children being pinned to the floor, handcuffed, gagged and duct-taped, and locked in closets.
Restraint and seclusion has resulted in broken bones, cuts and bruises, and even deaths of children. The abusive practices are used frequently on very young children, ages 6 - 10, and disproportionately on children with disabilities.
The legislation is supported by both disability rights organizations such as the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the Arc of the United States, United Cerebral Palsy and others as well as national education organizations like the National School Boards Association, the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education. We urge you to become a co-sponsor. If you would like more information, please feel free to contact me or write to Ari Ne'eman of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network at firstname.lastname@example.org.