Legislation aimed at protecting children with autism and other disabilities from being injured in school has stalled in the House of Representatives at the hands of a single member who objects to federal intervention.
Minnesota Republican Rep. John Kline, who chairs the House's education committee, has frozen action in the House on a proposal to institute national standards for how teachers and school staff can safely restrain students.
"Chairman Kline believes state officials and school leaders are best equipped to determine appropriate policies that should be in place to protect students and to hold those who violate those policies accountable," said Alexandra Haynes Sollberger, the communications director for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. "For this reason, the committee has not scheduled any action on seclusion and restraint legislation at this time."
From outside Capitol Hill, the primary opposition to the bill has come from school administrators, who would like to see the school officials themselves retain control over discipline in their classrooms. Daniel A. Domenech, who heads the American Association of School Administrators, says the practice of restraining an out-of-control student is an unwelcome but essential part of keeping teachers and other students safe. And the vast majority of the time, he said, school officials are able to subdue a child without harm coming to anyone.
Domenech told ABC News his chief concern with the legislation was that it could put teachers in a bind – if a child poses a threat to others and they step in, would they have to risk violating a federal law to do so?
Here is a Nightline report from Brian Ross. (Note, however, that Ross has a spotty record of accuracy: he was the reporter who suggested on live TV that a Tea Party activist was the Aurora mass murderer.)