Sign-On Letter for The Keeping All Students Safe Act
We, the undersigned, believe it is time for a national policy addressing restraint and seclusion in our schools for all children. In 2009, a Government Accountability Office study found children have been injured, traumatized, and even killed through restraint and seclusion in schools. In March 2012, data released by the Department of Education showed that nearly 40,000 students were physically restrained during the 2009-10 school year; 70% of whom were students with disabilities. The data also showed that these practices are disproportionately used upon minority students. There have been numerous news reports of students harmed by restraints and seclusion. Less than 1/3 of states restrict restraint and seclusion use to emergencies involving an imminent risk of physical harm. It is important that use of restraint and seclusion be limited to these emergencies. While federal law protects children and adults from the use of restraints and seclusion in hospitals, no similar federal laws exist to protect children in schools. We urge Congress to pass the Keeping All Students Safe Act bills (S.2020 and H.R. 1381), and create minimum restraint/seclusion standards in schools that will protect all children.
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.
S. 2020 and H.R. 1381 will protect all children in school. They will ensure that restraints are used only in emergencies posing an imminent threat of physical danger. If less restrictive and dangerous measures like de-escalation, conflict management, and positive behavioral supports will prevent the threat, the bills will require that they be used. The bills will provide similar protections from seclusion. They will require prompt parental notification. They will ban the use of restraints that impede breathing or harm children or staff. The bills will ensure that staff are properly trained in evidence-based methods to minimize the use of restraint and seclusion and to protect children and staff.
We ask Congress to pass the Keeping All Students Safe Act and make our schools safer for students and staff. America needs more than the current patchwork of state laws to ensure that every child is afforded protection.