Fwd: Keeping All Students Safe Act: Contact Your Senators!
- Please take action and distribute widely - thanks!Sandy, Illinois
Volunteer Co-Webmaster, Our Children Left Behind (http://www.ourchildrenleftbehind.com) (special education advocacy volunteers)-----Original Message-----
From: Susan Goodman, National Down Syndrome Congress <susan@...>
To: parentvolunteer <parentvolunteer@...>
Sent: Fri, Feb 24, 2012 1:51 pm
Subject: Keeping All Students Safe Act: Contact Your Senators!
Having trouble viewing this email? Click hereFebruary 23, 2012National Down Syndrome CongressGovernmental Affairs Newsline In This Issue Background Sample MessageShare this information with 10 family members and friends and ask them to contact their Senators, too!National Down Syndrome Congress
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800-232-6372/770-604-9500Keeping All Students Safe ActTell Congress to prevent the dangerous restraint and seclusion of our school children NOW!Call Your Senator and Ask Him or Her to Co-Sponsor the Keeping All Students Safe Act (S.2020).The cost of waiting is being paid in injuries and lives.On Friday, December 16, 2011, Senator Thomas Harkin (D-IA) introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act (S.2020). This bill would promote the use of safe, effective intervention and prevent practices that do impose restraints and seclusion. This bill represents a culmination of years of advocacy against abusive behavioral interventions that dehumanize and harm students, and promotes proactive, positive practices, and keeps parents appropriately informed. The time to pass this bill is now - we can no longer endure harm to vulnerable children as a result of abusive practices when decades of research equip education professionals with positive, safe and effective alternatives.What can YOU do?Call, write, and/or visit your Senators. You can e-mail your Senators through their Senate website forms. Go to http://1.usa.gov/Senat. You can find your two Senators by choosing your state at the top. PLEASE EMAIL BOTH OF YOUR SENATORS. Letters mailed through regular mail to the U.S. Congress are delayed for anthrax screening. So, please use E-MAIL.You can find a sample message at the end of this e-mail.BACKGROUNDWhy this bill?S. 2020 addresses the "4 P's" that parents and students nationwide have been asking for:
Why now?Successful restraint and seclusion prevention has already taken place in the other systems where children are served, such as hospitals and psychiatric care. Now it is the turn of our schools to come in line with those reforms.Parents need basic protections for their children as they move from state to state for jobs, military service, etc. The Government Accountability Office issued a report in 2009 that found the current patchwork of state protections to be confusing, inconsistent, and often threadbare.Children and families are suffering even though decades of research offers safe, effective alternatives. Parents and advocates have been united in working toward this goal since 2004. Legislation was successfully introduced in the House in 2009, but now the bill needs to be re-introduced and voted on in the current Congress. In the meantime, incredible abuses continue to make the news. Whose child will be next?Sample MessageDear Senator,I am the (parent/grandparent/friend) of (son/daughter) who has a disability. (Include other personal information, if you wish).Currently there is an epidemic of restraint, seclusion and other abusive techniques being used across the country against students with disabilities. Students are often locked in rooms or forced into rooms where the door is otherwise blocked.Children have been restrained or secluded for behaviors that are not dangerous or harmful; for not doing assignments, being noisy, behavioral control, discipline, or punishment. A Government Accountability Office study found hundreds of cases of alleged abuse and death from restraint and seclusion in school. They included a young teen who hanged himself in a seclusion room while a teacher sat outside and a 7 year old who was restrained face down and died because she could not breathe. The GAO documented at least 20 stories of children who died from restraint. Other children suffered injuries, including broken bones and bloody noses, or had post-traumatic stress syndrome.The bill will:
- PROTECTION: The bill prohibits restraint as a planned intervention in students' education plans, including behavior plans (BIPs) and Individual Education Programs (IEPs). It prohibits the use of seclusion, and of aversive behavioral interventions that compromise health and safety. This means that parents would no longer feel pressured to consent to the use of these techniques, or unintentionally give consent when restraint is called by other names. It means that restraint would no longer be viewed as part of a child's educational program.
- PREVENTION: Restraint may not be imposed for purposes of coercion, discipline or convenience, or as a substitute for appropriate educational or positive behavioral interventions and supports. There must be "imminent danger of serious bodily injury" and less intrusive methods must have failed before restraint can be used. This means that restraint is clearly limited to emergency use only, with the bar set high. "Imminent danger" would not refer to the prospect of future "escalation", the words used by an upset child, property damage, or any bodily injury that is less than "serious."
- POSITIVE BEHAVIOR SUPPORTS: The bill calls for data-based decision-making and evidence-based positive behavioral interventions and supports, debriefing, conflict prevention, behavioral assessments, de-escalation of challenging behaviors, and effective and safe conflict management. This means that IDEA language will be taken seriously and schools must concentrate on proactive, preventive, evidence-based practices.
- PARENT PARTICIPATION: Parental notification of any use of restraint would be required within 24 hours. A debriefing after an incident, to which parents and the student are invited, and data collection on these incidents by state, are also mandatory. This means that parents will promptly receive vital information which many school districts currently fail to share, and that school staff must meet with parents and students to find ways of avoiding future emergencies.
Please co-sponsor the Keeping All Students Safe Act (S. 2020).Yours Truly,If you have questions, contact susan@...
- create minimum standards to protect all children nationwide from abusive restraint and seclusion.
- ban physical restraint except in emergency situations when there is an immediate threat of physical danger to a person. Only 14 states require this today.
- require schools to notify parents on the same day if a child has been subjected to the techniques, and to follow up in writing within 24 hours. Too many parents never find out what happened; 27 states have no parental notification requirements at all, and others have no deadlines.
- ban life-threatening restraints, such as those that interfere with breathing.
- ban chemical and mechanical restraint, like locking children into devices and chairs, and tying and duct-taping them to furniture.
- require the collection of data to improve decision-making and provide the public with information.