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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Action Alert: Ask Your Representatives to Co-Sponsor and Support Newly Introduced Restraint / Seclusion Legislation in the House of Representatives!

Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied 2012 Protest SignCongressman George Miller (D-CA; ranking member of the House Education & Workforce Committee) and Congressman Gregg Harper (R-MS) recently introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act, HR 1893, a bill to protect all students nationwide from restraint and seclusion.

NCIL strongly supports legislation to end restraint and seclusion and we know our members do, too. Please take this opportunity to contact your Representative and ask them to co-sponsor and support the Keeping All Students Safe Act, HR 1893.

When you call, ask for the staff person who handles education issues. Contacting your Representative by phone is the most effective way to communicate your message. If you are unable to use the telephone to contact your Representative, you can contact them by email.

Talking Points / Reasons to Support the Keeping Students Safe Act, HR 1893 

Source: Autism National Committee

  1. The KSSA will ban restraint/seclusion except in emergencies where someone is in danger of physical harm.  Only 13 states by law limit restraint of all children to emergencies where it is necessary to protect someone from imminent physical danger or serious physical danger; only 11 states have laws protecting all children from non-emergency seclusion.  Restraint and seclusion are so dangerous that they must be limited in this manner-to the absolutely rarest of circumstances when physical safety requires their use.
  2. The KSSA will require that parents be informed if their child was restrained/secluded on the same day that the event occurred.  Parents should be notified very quickly so they can seek medical care for concussions, hidden internal injuries, and trauma, and to work with the schools to create positive environments for their children.   30 states by law or guidance support informing parents of at least some children within a day or as soon as possible, indicating that this is an important public policy.  But as Congressman Miller has pointed out, far too often, parents never knew what happened to their child.
  3. The KSSA will ban restraints that impede breathing, mechanical restraints, and chemical restraints.  These are highly dangerous practices.  Of the 20 deaths the GAO documented, 4 were of children who said they could not breathe due to restraint. Only 20 states ban restraints that obstruct breathing for all children; 27 for children with disabilities.  Only 14 states by law ban the use of dangerous chemical restraints; only 15 ban mechanical restraints.  These include chairs and other devices that children are locked into; duct tape and bungee cords, ties, rope, and other things used to restrain children; and other devices.  An Alabama child locked into a restraining chair and left alone in the bathroom turned the chair upside down and was hanging from the restraints, having urinated on herself.
  4. The KSSA will prevent restraint/seclusion from being used when less restrictive alternatives, like positive supports and de-escalation, would eliminate any danger.  It would require them to end when the emergency ends.  Some children have remained in seclusion/restraint until they can sit perfectly still or do other tasks unrelated to an emergency.  Children with significant disabilities may be unable to respond to such commands and yet pose no threat of danger.
  5. The KSSA will require that if children are placed in seclusion rooms, school staff must continuously visually observe them.  Children locked in closets, bathrooms, and other rooms and spaces unobserved have been killed, injured, and traumatized.  But the majority of states do not require continuous visual monitoring.  At Atlanta teen died in seclusion while being checked on occasionally in 2007; an Indiana child attempted suicide while being monitored occasionally in 2011.
  6. Instead of restraint and seclusion, the KSSA seeks to promote positive behavioral supports for all children.  The bill will shift schools toward preventing problematic behavior through the use of de-escalation techniques, conflict management and evidence-based positive behavioral interventions and supports.  This shift of focus will help school personnel understand the needs of their students and safely address the source of challenging behaviors – a better result for everyone in the classroom.
  7. There is much evidence that positive supports and interventions are very successful.  For example, the Centennial School in Pennsylvania, which serves children in 35 school districts, has cut the use of restraint and seclusion from well over 1,000 occurrences per year to less than ten through the use of positive supports. Reports and studies have also shown that students and staff are safer when positive interventions and supports, rather than restraint and seclusion, are used in schools. Worker’s Compensation costs even decrease significantly.

The KSSA will also ban dangerous aversive practices that threaten safety; require the collection of data; and require appropriate training of staff.  Far too often, untrained staff injure and harm students.  Data is important to ensure that there is sunshine.  When Florida introduced data reporting and collection, a number of school districts cut their use of restraint/seclusion.

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