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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Seclusion and Restraint: Legislative Update

Disability Scoop reports:

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., reintroduced legislation Wednesday that would prohibit restraint or seclusion in most school situations. The bill would also mandate that parents be notified if the practices are used on their child and it would disallow restraint or seclusion from being included in a student’s individualized education program, or IEP.

As chairman of the House education committee last year, Miller championed the same bill and it won approval from the full House. But the issue never came before the Senate and ultimately died after a coalition of disability advocacy groups that was working to support the measure split over disagreements stemming from proposed changes to the legislation.

The introduction of the new bill Wednesday came the same day the disability advocacy group TASH issued a report detailing media coverage of over 50 incidents of restraint and seclusion that have occurred since last spring.

The fate of the legislation this year remains unclear, however, under the Republican controlled House. The issue has been contentious from the start, with some education groups saying the federal proposal could jeopardize school safety. (Read all of Disability Scoop’s coverage of restraint and seclusion >>)

Miller comes to the table with a bipartisan group of 17 co-sponsors. But the current education committee chair, Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., is not on board, making it unlikely that the bill will be considered soon.

The bill is HR 1381.

From a Miller press release:

Specifically the legislation would:

• Limit physical restraint and locked seclusion, allowing these interventions only when there is imminent danger of injury, and only when imposed by trained staff;
• Outlaw mechanical restraints, such as strapping kids to chairs, and prohibit restraints that restrict breathing;
• Require schools to notify parents after incidents when restraint or seclusion was used;
• Encourage states to provide support and training to better protect students and prevent the need for emergency behavioral interventions; and
• Increase transparency, oversight and enforcement tools to prevent future abuse.

For more information about the legislation and the GAO reports, click here.

The bill won praise from The Autism Society and COPAA