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Bill would ban schools from physically restraining, secluding children as discipline

Chris Graham
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Federal data show incidents of restraint and seclusion happen on average at least 2,300 times per school day, and impact upwards of 102,000 students each academic year, according to an investigation by Hearst Media.

There were at least 417,693 instances of restraint and seclusion in the 2017-2018 school year, as many students are repeatedly subjected to those interventions. And this is as thousands of schools decline to report their numbers and thousands report zero cases, which is unlikely to be true.

“Every child deserves a safe environment in which to learn and grow, but far too often students – particularly Black students and those with disabilities – are subjected to abusive disciplinary actions. Many states have recognized the harm of seclusion and inappropriate restraint in the classroom and banned these practices, but this remains a national civil rights issue that needs a federal solution,” Eighth District Virginia Democratic Congressman Don Beyer said.

Beyer joined House Education and Workforce Committee Ranking Member Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA-03) and U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), chair of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Patty Murray (D-WA), this week in reintroducing the Keeping All Students Safe Act, legislation to protect students from dangerous seclusion and restraint discipline practices in school.

The Keeping All Students Safe Act would make it illegal for any school receiving federal taxpayer money to seclude children, would ban dangerous restraint practices that restrict children’s breathing, such as prone or supine restraint, and also prohibit schools from physically restraining children, except when necessary to protect the safety of students and staff.

The legislation would provide training for school personnel to address school-expected behavior with evidence-based, proactive strategies, require states to monitor the law’s implementation, and increase transparency and oversight to prevent future abuse of students.

“Every child should be safe and protected while in school. Sadly, that is not always the case. Despite evidence that seclusion and restraint practices make schools less safe, thousands of students are still subjected to these dangerous discipline methods. Students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately impacted by these harmful practices,” Scott said. “A quality education cannot be achieved without a safe learning environment. The Keeping All Students Safe Act would establish nationwide requirements and provide states and teachers the support they need to improve their schools’ culture by using evidence-based interventions.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].