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Monday, June 25, 2012

Hearing on Seclusion and Restraint

Previous posts have discussed seclusion and restraint. For the first time this year, Congress is taking up the issue. A message from the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates:
** Please note the time change. ** 
Title: Beyond Seclusion and Restraint: Creating Positive Learning Environments for All Students
Date: Thursday, June 28, 2012
Time: 9:15 a.m.
Place: SD-106 (Dirksen Senate Office Building)
Dr. Daniel Crimmins , Director, Center for Leadership in Disability, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia
Ms. Cyndi Pitonyak , Coordinator of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, Montgomery County Public Schools, Christiansburg, Virginia
Dr. Michael George , Director, Centennial School, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Ms. Deborah (Debbie) Jackson , parent, Easton, Pennsylvania 
Let Congress know that now is the time to pass federal legislation that provides protections for every child in school. Even if you have told them before, tell them again – and urge everyone you know to do the same! COPAA, along with many other school, parent, and national advocacy organizations has been actively working towards the passage of federal legislation that raises the bar of protection and safety in schools for all students. We will not rest until all students are safe in the schoolhouse.
We need a powerful and escalating collective voice to insist that Congress pass federal legislation without delay.
Senator Tom Harkin (Chair, Health Education Labor and Pension Committee) introduced S. 2020 the Keeping All Students Safe Act to protect students from dangerous restraint and seclusion on December 16, 2011. A bipartisan hearing “Beyond Seclusion and Restraint: Creating Positive Learning Environments for All Students” cosponsored by Senators Harkin and Enzi is scheduled for June 28th
Representative George Miller (Ranking Member, House Education and Workforce Committee) introduced H.R. 1381, the Keeping All Students Safe Act in the House on April 6, 2011. The bill currently has bipartisan support, thanks to Rep. Gregg Harper, with 42 cosponsors.
We sincerely thank Rep. Miller and Senator Harkin for their staunch and continued leadership on this critical issue.

The Keeping All Students Safe Act will promote a shift toward preventing problematic behavior through the use of de-escalation techniques, conflict management and evidence-based positive behavioral interventions and supports. This shift 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. In many cases, the use of positive supports and interventions greatly diminishes and even eliminates the need to use restraint and seclusion. 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.
Other critical provisions of the bill include:
  • Ensure the safety of all students and school personnel.
  • Promote positive school culture and climate.
  • Protect students from being locked in rooms or spaces from which they cannot exit.
  • Promote of effective intervention and prevention practices, emphasize training, de-escalation, conflict management, and evidence-based practices shown to be effective in prevention.
  • Restrict physical restraint to emergencies posing a serious threat of physical harm to self or others.
  • Prohibit use of these dangerous practices to punish children, coerce compliance, for behavioral infractions, or as a substitute for positive behavioral support or proper educational programming.
  • Prohibit the use when less restrictive measures would be effective in stopping the threat of harm.
  • Require that the imposition end when the emergency ends.
  • Ban restraints that are life threatening (including those that interfere with breathing), mechanical and chemical restraints, aversives that threaten health or safety, and restraints that interfere with the ability to communicate or which would harm a child.
  • Require that parental notification occur within 24 hours and require staff and family to debrief so as to prevent use in the future.
  • Require that states collect data, make it available to members of the public, and use the data to minimize further use.
  • Protect teachers, staff, and parents from retaliation when they report violations of the law.
  • Prohibit including restraint as a planned intervention in Individual Educational Programs or other individualized planning documents. (see COPAA Document on the critical importance of this provision here).
  • Preserve existing rights under state and federal law and regulation.
Existing laws alone have not protected students against such abuse and injury, though many do offer important protections. Creating a national floor of protection will ensure that children are protected in every state.
Join us today in urging your elected officials to co-sponsor and pass H.R. 1381 and S. 2020. Email your two Senators and Congressional Representative and ask them to COSPONSOR and pass the Keeping All Students Safe Act. Ask your friends, family members, fellow advocates, and colleagues to do the same. 
Visit to find out the name of your US Senators and to find your Representative.
Dial the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for the office of your Senators and Representative
Identify yourself as a constituent and the organization that you represent (if any)
Give them your message, then pass this alert along to others!
Message: “I am calling to ask Senator/Representative _________ to move legislation to limit restraint and end the use of seclusion in schools. Restraint should only be used in emergencies threatening the physical safety of the student or others. The Keeping All Students Safe Act will create a baseline of protections to ensure the safety of all students and school personnel. I urge Sen./Rep.__________ to address this national problem and move the Keeping All Students Safe Act now.”
Please, send the email or call this week. Our children’s lives depend on it