TASH, a nonprofit advocate for inclusion and the human rights of people with significant disabilities, applauds the reintroduction of The Keeping All Students Safe Act by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) and calls upon members of Congress to act swiftly to pass legislation that protects students from abusive practices in schools.
Restraint, seclusion and other aversive interventions are used in schools across the U.S. to modify the behavior or otherwise control students, frequently those with disabilities. Data released from the Department of Education show students with disabilities and students of color are at greater risk of these practices than their white peers without disabilities.
These practices cause unnecessary trauma, injury and death. If passed, The Keeping All Students Safe Act would provide a federal baseline of protections for students by limiting restraint and seclusion use in schools only to emergencies, consistent with existing federal protections in mental health, aging, and other human services. TASH supports positive, evidence-based alternatives to restraint and seclusion, including the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports and other de-escalation techniques.
“This legislation upholds the right of every student to be free from harm in school, and we thank Representative Miller for his continued leadership on the prevention of restraint and seclusion,” said Barb Trader, Executive Director of TASH. “We ask now for the rest of Congress to own up to its responsibility to protect our children by ensuring full passage of this legislation.”
Advocates have long sought federal protections for students, stemming from a 2009 Government Accountability Office report that found abusive practices were occurring in schools throughout the U.S. The GAO report asserted no federal laws exist to restrict the use of restraint and seclusion in schools, and state laws – where they exist – can vary widely.
Reps. Miller and McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wash.) first introduced a restraint and seclusion prevention bill in 2010, which was passed in the House of Representatives with bipartisan support. The Senate counterpart failed to gain traction, and subsequent attempts to move legislation have fallen short. Each passing day without federal protections against these practices puts students across the U.S. at risk of being seriously traumatized, injured or killed. It is a moral imperative that Congress act now to keep our students safe in school.
Additional information about TASH, resources on the prevention of restraint and seclusion, and ways to become involved in advocacy to promote positive school environments can be found at www.tash.org.