After much deliberation, CHADD is supporting the passage of Senate
bill S.2020, the
Keeping All Students Safe Act. The legislation responds to a
critical need to have national standards on the use of seclusion and/or
restraints in our schools. The bill would prohibit the use of
mechanical and chemical restraints, limit the use of restraints to
emergencies and only when less restrictive measures have failed (a
two-part requirement), and outline the termination of
seclusion/restraints as well as parental notification. The Senate
version of the bill differs from the House version in allowing
seclusion/restraints to be included as interventions in a child’s
IEP plan under certain circumstances. CHADD would prefer the
legislation did not include this provision, but feels the benefits of
the bill outweigh these concerns. Once passed, differences between
the House and Senate versions would be resolved in a conference
committee with members of both houses. We hope at this
time that the House version would prevail.
CHADD has been actively supporting COPAA, NDRN, TASH, autism consumer
and family groups, and others on the position that restraint and
seclusion should not be a planned intervention in an IEP. Restraint and
seclusion are emergency responses to crisis behavioral situations, while
an IEP is a planned sequence of educational and related accommodations
to assist students to learn. IEPs can be supplemented with behavioral
intervention plans that rely on trained staff to de-escalate crisis
situations without relying on restraint and seclusion.
Read the statement below from Tricia and Calvin Luker (www.ourchildrenleftbehind.com)
on the status of this legislation.
Parents, parent advocates and self-advocates, attorneys, educators and
medical/mental health professionals throughout the United States have
been working for years to create federal legislation that would prohibit
the use of seclusion and restraints throughout America’s
schools. We have expended this effort because we have seen the
effects of thousands of instances where children who expect us to
protect them have been hurt or killed by being secluded or
restrained. We are acting to protect the children.
On December 9, 2009 we achieved our first hint of success when the
Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act was introduced
in the US House of Representatives by Congressman George Miller of
California and in the US Senate by Senator Christopher Dodd of
Connecticut. The House bill, now renamed, “The Keeping All
Students Safe Act” has passed the House and been sent to the
Senate. The Senate bill remains pending before the Senate
Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions [HELP].
Why do we need this bill? The primary reason we need a federal law
prohibiting the use of seclusion and restraint is because many states
currently have no prohibition against the use of seclusion and
restraints, while other states have individual legislation regulating
the use of seclusion and restraint without uniform enforcement
provisions or federal reporting requirements. Without federal
legislation ALL American children are at risk of injury and death from
the use of restraint/seclusion. Here are the provisions as
passed by the House in The Keeping All Students Safe
Chemical Restraints: Prohibits
Restraints that Interfere with Breathing:
Restraint/Seclusion in IEP: Prohibits as a
Allow seclusion/restraint use only if there is an emergency AND
if less restrictive measures would not work (a 2-part
requirement): Sets this two-step standard. First, there
must be an emergency presenting imminent danger of physical injury to
self or others. Second, if less restrictive measures would resolve
the problem, R/S cannot be used.
Monitoring children in seclusion/restraints: Requires
face-to-face monitoring unless unsafe for staff and then direct,
continuous visual monitoring required.
Terminating the use of seclusion/restraint: The
restraining or seclusion must end when the emergency ends.
Use of aversives: Prohibits aversives that
compromise health or safety.
Parental notification if child is restrained/secluded:
Requires same day verbal/electronic notification of parents and written
notification within 24 hours of each incident.
The bills as passed by the House and as introduced in the Senate permit
the Secretary of the Department of Education to withhold funding for
those districts that violate the provisions of the bills. They
also extend the power of the state Protection and Advocacy systems to
investigate instances of unlawful use of seclusion or
On May 19, 2009, the House of Representatives Education and Labor
Committee held a hearing, Examining the Abusive and Deadly Use of Seclusion and Restraint
in Schools. The hearing complemented a General
Accountability Office (GAO) report, Selected
Cases of Death and Abuse at Public and Private Schools and Treatment
issued on May 19.
The GAO report
validates the facts and circumstances surrounding ten selected cases of
restraint and seclusion in U.S. schools. At the hearing, Gregory D.
Kutz highlighted three of the cases, including the case of Christopher.
A nine-year old male diagnosed with ADHD, Christopher was reportedly
secluded in a time-out room more than 75 times during a six-month period
for such behaviors as making noises, chewing on his shirt, and fidgeting
in class. Although the room was not locked, staff repeatedly held its
Currently, there is no federal law that governs the
use of restraint and seclusion in schools. Chairman George Miller (D-CA)
stated affirmatively that keeping children safe “is not a partisan
issue, but a moral issue.”