Christina Samuels writes at Education Week that the Virgina Legislature has passed legislation to regulate restraint and seclusion and that a Connecticut report says that schools and teachers need more guidance on handling student behavior.
The Virginia legislation requires the state board of education to adopt a policy consistent with the Education Department's guidance on restraint and seclusion. That document outlines 15 principles for schools to follow, including making every effort to restrict the use of restraint and seclusion; a ban on mechanical restraints or chemical restraints; notifying parents each time their child is restrained or secluded, and never using restraint or seclusion for punishment or discipline, coercion, or as a convenience.From the Connecticut report:
The bill passed the Virginia House unanimously on Thursday; a Senate version with the same language passed Jan. 27 on a 35-4 vote. The Associated Press reported that Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, supports the legislation.
In Connecticut, the state's child advocate, Sarah Eagan, issued a "call to action" on restraint and seclusion, saying that the practice traumatizes children and does not have any therapeutic value. Over the past three years, 1,313 incidences of a child being injured while being restrained or secluded have been reported, with more than two dozen of those injuries considered "serious," said the report, which was released on Wednesday
In Connecticut, children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are the most likely children to be restrained or secluded in school. Experts have strongly cautioned against reliance on seclusion and restraint for children and adults with Autism. In 2011, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), authorized under federal law as an advisory committee per the Combating Autism Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-416), issued a public letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services outlining significant concerns regarding the pervasive use of restraint and seclusion for children with autism. The IACC—chaired by Thomas Insel, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Mental Health—stated:
[U]tilization of restraint or seclusion should be viewed as a treatment failure that exacerbates behavioral challenges and induces additional trauma.In its letter, which specifically addressed seclusion and restraint in schools, the IACC endorsed numerous recommendations for federal agencies including regulatory reform, improved data collection, guidance and technical assistance for providers, concluding:“[F]ederal legislation is urgently needed to ensure the safety of all students and staff” by requiring standards for monitoring and enforcement of restraint and seclusion practices, as well as prohibition of mechanical, chemical, and high-risk physical restraints . . . “the use of seclusion and restraint in every setting is a critical issue for people with ASD and other disabilities and their families that requires immediate Federal attention.” xiv
xiv IACC (Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee) Letter to the Secretary on Seclusion and Restraint, Sept. 7, 2011, http://iacc.hhs.gov/publications/2011/letter_seclusion_restraint_090711.shtml#ref6 (last visited Jan. 29, 2015).