Seclusion and Restraint- An Update

Back in May I covered The Ed and Labor Hearing on Seclusion and Restraint. This week, there is an update on that front- Chairman Miller, Representative McMorris Rodgers and Senator Dodd introduced Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (H.R. 4247) and Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (S.2860). You can watch the press conference that was held on this here (WMV) or read the Press Release.


Many organizations and coalitions applaud this introduced legislation, Saying that it is a big step for the rights of students across the country. Justice For All Action Network released a statement (Which you can read at ASAN’s site) stating that they were pleased as it has been one of the key components of their agenda. And Families against Restraint and Seclusion certainly see this as a step forward.

However, in the meantime between now and when the bill passes into law, a lot of things could change, and a lot of things are terrifyingly staying the same. Michael E. Robinson* of Parents United For Special Education recently distributed information about a case of school abuse in Cobb County, Georgia involving a 13-year-old Autistic student. For that young Georgian, the fact that people in DC have introduced legislation doesn’t take back the abuse he’s suffered since the May Hearing. Robinson also comments that he believes “it’s a shell that will need to be amended with some strong and heavy additions” and calls for the president to speak on the issue in attempt to get it the attention it deserves.

There is some legitimate Criticism of the bill as it stands now. As blogger Astrid writes in her post, certain phrases are really subjective, such as imminent danger.” This has been a common concern about laws surrounding this issue, especially in Florida where it has been brought up over and over again. Too often, aides interpret situations that are not ones of true imminent danger as such, resulting in an escalation. These false positives are often reported vaguely, and as a result the truth of the incident is left in a he-said-she-said battle.

Another concern is that because the “teeth” of the bill is left to the states, the effectiveness- or even swift implication- of the bill is impaired or even neutered out completely. One of the other issues mentioned in the debates about Florida’s regulations is that the lack of consequences make the regulations useless. The bill states at Sec6(a) that the states will have 2 years to come up with state level regulations that must include enforcement (Sec 6(a)(1)(B)), among other things. My question is what is to happen in the meantime? And while there are measures to prevent them from delaying the process past the 2 years, there are no suggestions as to the minimum enforcement standards.

Another issue that I am worried about is that Section 5(a)(4) will be used to prevent parents from specifying their wishes concerning the school’s policy on the restraints the bill does allow. Sec.5(a)(4) states that Seclusion and restraint my not be written in as a planned intervention into an IEP or other plan. While this is intended to prevent schools from pressuring parents into consenting to Seclusion and/or restraint in a child’s IEP, I fear that some schools might use this to justify restricting the amount of say parents have in mitigating issues with school policy.

Even with these concerns, though, I think that this bill represents a great step forward for all students. Hopefully it will result in fewer students being injured, tortured, or even killed in our schools.

Wright’s Law has not yet posted its analysis, but their post on the bill is pretty good and they expect the analysis post to happen in the next week. I’m interested to hear their list of pros and cons- and hopeful that they will be able to clear up some of my concerns. After all, I’m not a lawyer, just someone who wades through legalese out of fun and need!

I’m also interested in other opinions on the bill as it progresses through the House and Senate, and am curious as to how it will be strengthened- or weakened.


* Please contact me if you get this so that I can link you in and provide readers with more information.
NOTE: if you have links to further commentary about criticism of the bill, please let me know.
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Seclusion and restraint in Schools- Our tortured students.

Today was the House Committee Hearing on “Examining the Abusive and Deadly Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Schools”. (An archive of the Hearing can be found here, with select clips on the Labor and Education Committee’s Youtube, and C-Span has it here.)

The GAO Report (PDF) Was given to the Representatives on the Committee ahead of time. These included* chairman Miller (D-CA), Andrews (D-NJ), McKeon (R-CA), Woolsey (D-CA), McCarthy (D-NY), Scott (D-VA), Hare (D-IL), Biggert (R-IL), & Payne (D-NJ), who were in attendance (though several arrived late due to other bussiness).

Miller’s Initial statement can be found here.

Witnesses:

As the Education and Labor Dems youtube has the testimonies divided up, I have put a link to each next to the appropriate person. Otherwise the above formatting is from the Education and Labor’s Website on the issue. Also, these do not include the Q&A portion. see further down in the entry for those portions.

Gaydos brought her daughter, Page (Dx: Aspergers, formerly bipolar) as well. While I was disappointed that page didn’t speak, I can understand why she didn’t. She’s still a minor (16?), speaking in front of people is nerve wracking, and the incident happened around 2001. Also, many people still discriminate against Those with “invisible” disabilities, especially if they attempt to advocate for themselves (usually saying that they obviously aren’t that disabled). Her mother recounted her story, and How there were other families who had similar instances happen. She elaborated that the only reason why they were able to pursue it was financial stability, and that she has talked to many families that did not because they didn’t have that amount of financial resources.

On a side note, I loved Page’s outfit-though I wouldn’t have worn that shirt. Well, I would have at 16, but that is beside the point. 🙂

Toni Price Was both witty and heartbreaking in her testimony. Her foster son was killed durring a restraint, and because she was “Only” a foster parent, she was told she could not pursue charges. This happened while she was in Texas. The teacher that even the representitives refered to as havin murdered her son is teaching today in Virginia**. There were several points where I thought she would break down crying. However she didn’t, and when It came time for Q&A, she was sharper than a tack and extremely witty. She even talked back to McKeon (who I will get to in a moment)

I applaud Rep Hare, BTW, for his comment that It was shameful to have the attitude that Foster Children don’t matter.

Here’s Miller’s Q&A:

Note worthy moment: look at 4:00-5:40. Here Miller compares some of the restraints to water boarding.

Throughout the Q&A sessions, various representatives compare this to toture, and I think it’s of note that many of the

Here’s Andrew’s Q&A:

He starts right out questioning how useful the in place things are while pointing out WHY they are faulty and thereby suggesting how they can be fixed. This is mainly to do with why teachers who were put on a register for this in Texas’s state registry don’t automatically loose teaching certification in Texas, and how the Virginia Board of Ed didn’t even KNOW that the teacher was involved in a restraint related homicide.

Also of note: He refers to Cedric’s homicide as “murder”, Refuted McKeon’s points, and was very goal specific. (And now my first non-jewish political crush in ages. ♥)

Quotes: 6:36-7:00 “To those that imply that these cases are isolated and infrequent, that One is enough. And two, there are a lot of people who probably are not reporting these claims because – at least their trying- because no one listens to them because they are so voiceless.” He also said that the fact that schools are blowing off concerns as just being “annoying parents”- that there was something wrong with that.

Unfortunately, these are the only two Q&As that the Ed and Labor Dems put up on their youtube account. There were other Dems who answered, but their Q&As seem only available if you watch the full hearing, as is McKeon’s. However, since I’m so Disappointed in McKeon’s Approach (also, what was I expecting, really?), I’m cutting it and posting it for your viewing pleasure.

McKeon (R)’s Q&A

Sorry for the poor sound quality, had to record the screen. *frowns*

McKeon’s comments start with blaming Unions, and then going “but privacy!”

Toni Then is incredibly witty. She asks if Pedophiles are on a list that they have to report to. And then asks how it is that they are on a list, but teachers who murder students aren’t, and McKeon laughs and agrees on the point.

I definitely don’t like McKeon. At all.

The others that testified were professionals and they played in professional speak.

I have to wonder, though. We still have these things are going on in our schools, mostly to disabled students, and no one is talkign about it. And yet the Torture memos are BIG NEWS OMG. How is it any less worse that this is happening in our High, Elementary, and Pre-schools? Is it that tyhey are disabled that keeps people from outrage, is America really that callous? I expected more outrage, and instead I hear only a dull rawr.

*If I missed somebody, my appologies, I was going off my notes on Twitter, which were not complete. Corrections can be posted in the comments.
** I have been informed by a friend in VA that the teacher has been put on administrative leave.