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

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Data from the Civil Rights Data Collection reveals that 101,990 students were subjected to seclusion or restraint during the 2017-2018 school year.

Of the students restrained or secluded, 78 percent were students with disabilities who were disproportionately students who identified as Black/African American and boys.

Top Democrats in both the House and the Senate introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act to protect students from dangerous seclusion and restraint discipline practices in school.

The bill is sponsored by Congressman Don Beyer (VA-08), Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), and Congressman Donald McEachin (VA-04).

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

The bill would also better equip school personnel with the training they need 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.

“The practice of subjecting students to abusive discipline techniques happens far too often, and disproportionately affects Black children and students with disabilities. Many states have previously recognized the harm of seclusion and inappropriate restraint in the classroom and banned these practices. Our bill would enact nationwide protections that students across the country deserve,” Beyer said. “The Keeping All Students Safe Act will protect students from harmful discipline by creating minimum safety standards for schools and by providing training and support to school personnel. Every student deserves to feel safe at their school, and our bill would help translate this important principle into law.”

“Far too many students, particularly those with disabilities and kids of color, are subject to inhumane seclusion and restraint practices that have harmful effects on their learning and experience in the classroom – often with traumatic and sometimes fatal consequences. My colleagues and I are introducing legislation to fix this problem. No taxpayer-funded school in America should lock kids up alone in rooms or restrain them with abusive methods,” Murphy said. “The Keeping All Students Safe Act would establish strong federal standards to keep students safe, while providing school staff with alternatives to address disruptive behavior with evidence-based, trauma-informed, proactive strategies and the resources to put those alternatives into practice.”

“Despite evidence that seclusion and restraint practices make schools less safe, thousands of students are still subjected to these disproven methods of discipline. What’s more, students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately impacted by these harmful practices. It’s time we recognize that a quality education cannot be achieved without a safe learning environment,” Scott said. “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 only evidence-based interventions.”

“Every student deserves to be safe at school. But shockingly, schools are still allowed to punish students by locking them in rooms or forcibly restraining them in dangerous ways—and students with disabilities and students of color face the most harm. This is completely unacceptable,” Murray said. “The Keeping All Students Safe Act will ban these harmful tactics of seclusion and dangerous restraint and limit physical restraint, making our schools safer and more supportive environments for all children—no matter their race or disability. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this important legislation and I’ll continue working to address the many educational inequities that keep so many students from receiving a high-quality education.”

“For far too long, our nation’s students, particularly students of color and students with disabilities, have been subjected to inappropriate and abusive seclusion and restraint in the classroom,” McEachin said. “Not only are these dangerous policies ineffective at addressing student behavior, but they can also cause significant emotional and physical trauma. We must protect our students from these abusive techniques, and the Keeping All Students Safe Act will put in place the standards and restrictions necessary to ensure our children’s health and safety. Every child deserves to grow and prosper in a high-quality and healthy learning environment.”

To read the Keeping All Students Safe Act bill text, click here.


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