Restraint/Seclusion Bill Introduced
Today in U.S. House of Representatives
Congressman George Miller (D-CA),
ranking member of the House Education & Workforce Committee and Congressman
Gregg Harper (R-MS) today introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act, HR
1893, a bill to protect all students nationwide from restraint and seclusion.
We salute and applaud them for their leadership in working to ensure that all
students receive positive behavioral supports rather than be subjected to these
200 organizations wrote expressing support for the Keeping All Students Safe
Act in a letter shared with Congress, http://1.usa.gov/10JYPkP.
The Keeping All Students Safe Act
will provide vital protections for all American children. In 2009, a Government
Accountability Office study found that children were injured, traumatized, and
even killed through restraint and seclusion in schools. The GAO documented 20
deaths of school children. In March 2012, the Civil Rights Data Collection
showed that nearly 40,000 students were physically restrained during the
2009-10 school year. The data also showed that restraint and seclusion are
disproportionately used upon students with disabilities and minority students.
Please contact your members of
Congress and ask them to Cosponsor and Support the Keeping All Students Safe
Act, HR 1893. Dial 202-224-3121; ask for your Representative’s Office, and then
ask for the education aide. If you are unable to call and need to use email, go
(You can also find your Representative’s name here.) But please try to call if
you can. I have attached a copy of the bill. The link to Congressman Miller's
speech is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgOTwD-UcOo&feature=youtu.be
America today is a tattered
patchwork of state laws and guidelines, where some students receive
comprehensive protections only to lose them if their parents move across a
river, down a highway, or to the next town. Only 19 states have
statutes/regulations providing meaningful protections against both restraint
and seclusion for all children.
This is a summary of important
points about the Keeping Students Safe Act, HR
1893, and reasons to support it.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
We again salute Congressman Miller
and Congressman Harper for introducing the Keeping All Students Safe Act.
Congressman Miller has led efforts in the House to adopt restraint/seclusion
legislation since 2009, including ordering the GAO study, holding hearings, and
introducing and championing the bill.
Instructions for Contacting Congress
to Support the Bill. Please call your Congressional Representatives and ask them
to cosponsor the Keeping All Students Safe Act, 202-224-3121. Ask for your
Representative. Then ask for his/her education aide. You can find your
Representative on the House of Representatives website: http://bit.ly/RepWrit. You can
also go to that link to send an email message directly to your Representative,
but it is much better if you call.