Top Democrats unveil bill to protect students from seclusion and restraint practices

congressCongressman Don Beyer (VA-08), Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03), the top Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act to protect students from the dangers of seclusion and restraint at school.

The legislation would make it illegal for any school receiving taxpayer dollars to seclude children.  The legislation also limits the use of physical restraint to instances when it is necessary for the safety of students and teachers. The bill would establish minimum safety standards in schools, require states to monitor the law’s implementation, and increase transparency and oversight to prevent future abuse of students.

“No child should be afraid for their safety when they go to school. All too often students are subjected to abusive discipline techniques, which disproportionately affects minority and students with disabilities. A majority of states have already instituted bans on seclusion and inappropriate restraint in the classroom, and it is time we do so nationwide,” said Congressman Don Beyer (VA-08). “The Keeping All Students Safe Act will safeguard students from these incidents of harmful discipline by setting minimum safety standards for schools and by providing training and support to school personnel. It is my duty as a parent, and all our duties as members of our communities, to keep kids safe whenever and wherever we can.”

“It’s barbaric for schools to confine students alone in locked rooms, or to use abusive methods to restrain little children. Treating school kids this way should not be tolerated in America. Period,” said Senator Murphy (D-CT). “Our bill would establish strong federal standards to keep students safe, while giving school staff alternatives to respond to challenging situations in the right way. I look forward to working with students and advocates to advance this important piece of legislation.”

“Every school should be a safe and welcoming place where all students can get a quality education. Unfortunately, despite evidence that seclusion and restraint practices make schools less safe, thousands of students are still subjected to these disproven methods of discipline,” said Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03), House Committee on Education and the Workforce. “While it is encouraging that some states have begun to prohibit or limit the use of seclusion and restraint, it is important that Congress pass the Keeping All Students Safe Act, which would establish a nationwide minimum safety standard. Moreover, this legislation would provide states and teachers the support they need to improve their schools’ culture by using only evidence-based interventions.”

“I’m proud to cosponsor the Keeping All Students Safe Act to curb the use of dangerous practices like seclusion and restraint, which are not only harmful, but have lasting effects on students,” said Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA.) “These practices are disproportionally used on students with disabilities and children of color, so I’m pleased this bill starts to address the inequities in education that hold so many students back from reaching their full potential.  We must keep working to ensure every student is able to learn in a safe and supportive environment—no matter where they live, how they learn, or how much money their parents make.”

The legislation refers to key facts and findings that reveal a concerning history of seclusion and restraint of students in schools, including a 2009 Government Accountability Office (GAO)investigation that revealed hundreds of incidents of child abuse in schools as a result of seclusion and restraint practices that disproportionately impacted children with disabilities and children of color.

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