On Friday, December 16, 2011, Senator Thomas Harkin (D-IA) introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act. This bill would promote the development of effective intervention and prevention practices that do not impose restraints and seclusion; protect all students from physical or mental abuse, aversive behavioral interventions that compromise health and safety, and any restraint imposed for purposes of coercion, discipline or convenience, or as a substitute for appropriate educational or positive behavioral interventions and supports. Importantly the bill also works to ensure the safety of all students and school personnel and promote positive school culture and climate.
In 2004, NDSC and a handful of national disability organizations formed The Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion (APRAIS). APRAIS, now comprised of leading education, research and advocacy organizations, led the effort to introduce this important legislation. APRAIS's goal is to protect children with significant disabilities who exhibit challenging behaviors from abuse in schools, treatment programs and residential facilities.
This bill recognizes that "physical restraint and seclusion have resulted in physical injury, psychological trauma, and death to children in public and private schools." These abuses are described in reports by the U.S. Governmental Accountability Office (GAO), National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) and the Council of Parent and Attorney Advocates (COPAA). Existing laws alone have not protected students against such abuse and injury, though many do offer important protections.
We will disseminate the bill number as soon as it is available so readers can review the legislation.