Congressman Miller Urges Congress – “Protect Children from Abusive Restraint & Seclusion”

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On May 9, Congressman George Miller delivered a floor speech urging Congress to pass the Keeping All Students Safe Act, H.R. 1381, and protect children from abusive restraint and seclusion.

Miller also rolled out a new restraint/seclusion webpage and published a letter he had sent urging quick action on the bill.

This week, Senators Tom Harkin and Michael Enzi, Chair and Ranking Member of the Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee, announced hearings.

Senate Hearing: May 17, 2012 June 28, 2012, Re-scheduled for Thursday, July 12, 2012, 10:30 AM.  “Beyond Seclusion and Restraint:  Creating Positive Learning Environments for All Students.” 

The hearings will be broadcast live at  .  Witnesses with strong expertise in the use of positive supports in place of restraint and seclusion are expected to testify.

Congressman George Miller, the senior Democrat on HELP, asked Committee Chairman Kline to move the bill forward to Committee mark up. Miller first introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act in 2009 and reintroduced it in 2011.  The bill passed the House two years ago with bipartisan support.  His leadership has been tremendous.

“We cannot sit idly by,” while children are subjected to abusive practices, Congressman Miller said.  “Congress must step up to the plate and protect our nation’s children.”  Tens of thousands of children have been subjected to restraint and seclusion.

Watch Congressman Miller’s floor speech here:

Congressman Miller also wrote to House Education & Workforce Chair John Kline urging him to move the bill forward to a Committee mark up so Congress could act on it,

The House Democrats also rolled out today a new webpage dedicated to fighting abusive restraint and seclusion:

Congressman Miller pointed out that a limited number of states have laws limiting restraint and seclusion.

  • only 16 States limit the use of restraint to emergencies involving immediate risk of harm
  • only 18 ban restraints that impede breathing
  • only 24 require parental notification by law

Miller also described the recent death of 16 year old Corey Foster in physical restraint at the Leake and Watts school and the reports of restraint and seclusion in 31 states since 2010.

Senate Hearings Broadcast Live

On Thursday, May 17, 2012June 28, 2012, Re-scheduled for Thursday, July 12, 2012, 10:30 AM. Chairman Tom Harkin and Ranking Member Michael Enzi of the Senate HELP Committee will host a bipartisan hearing,  “Beyond Seclusion and Restraint:  Creating Positive Learning Environments for All Students.”  The hearings will be broadcast live at

The hearing is the first Congressional hearing devoted to restraint and seclusion in this two year Congressional session. The Senate is currently considering the Keeping All Students Safe Act (S.2020) to protect students from restraint and seclusion, introduced by Senator Harkin in December 2011.

Expected witnesses include:

  • Dr. Daniel Crimmins, Director, Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University (Atlanta, Georgia.)  Dr. Crimmins played a significant role in Georgia’s adoption of its 2010 regulation limiting restraint to emergency situations and banning seclusion in public schools throughout the state and in the Georgia network of educational and therapeutic support programs, 24 programs located throughout Georgia serving students with severe social, emotional, and behavioral needs.  Through this regulation and other actions, Georgia has demonstrated that a culture of positive supports and interventions has resulted in a safer environment for students and staff.
  • Ms. Cyndi Pitonyak, Coordinator of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, Montgomery County Public Schools (Christiansburg, Virginia.) For 20 years, Montgomery County Public Schools has used a fully inclusive model of instruction for all students with a strong emphasis on positive behavioral interventions on a school-wide/district-wide basis.
  • Dr. Michael George, Director, Centennial School (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania).  The Centennial School has been a national leader over the last decade in the use of positive behavioral Interventions and supports for students with disabilities.  Use of restraints and seclusion has declined from well over 1,000 occurrences per year to less than ten.  Centennial serves over 35 school districts and provides education for students with the most significant emotional, social, and behavioral needs. The Centennial School’s approach has been featured in the national news media.
  • Ms. Deborah (Debbie) Jackson, parent (Easton, Pennsylvania).  Ms. Jackson is the parent of a child who attended Centennial School for two and a half years, benefitting from its positive approach and recently transitioning back to a neighborhood school.

Both Senator Harkin and Congressman Miller have been tremendous leaders in seeking national legislation to protect the 55 million American children from restraint and seclusion.

Their two bills would protect children from dangerous restraint and seclusion through multiple provisions.  Restraint would be prohibited except in the event of an emergency posing harm of significant physical danger.

The House bill would limit seclusion the same way; the Senate bill would ban it.

Both bills will also ban restraint that impedes breathing and chemical and mechanical restraints.  Both bills will require schools to take steps to notify parents on the day when their child is subjected to abusive procedures.

More than half of the states do not have laws requiring parental notification.

Jessica Butler
Congressional Affairs Coordinator
Autism National Committee  (AutCom)
22 years of advocating for children and adults with autism and related disabilities

Find more information and resources on the Wrightslaw page Abuse, Restraints and Seclusion in School

Restraint Guidelines Endanger Children – from Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS), co-sponsor of the House Bill H.R. 1381 and a staunch supporter of the need to take action that Keeps All Students Safe in schools.


  1. GFig, I agree that safety of teachers and everyone in the room is important. No one should be a punching bag.

    When a student’s behavior is violent, the teacher should request a Functional Behavior Assessment to determine what is triggering the student’s behavior and come up with a positive Behavior Intervention Plan to eliminate the behavior. Sometimes, unbeknownst to the teacher, it is their own behavior, methods, or environmental factors that trigger the behavior. Sometimes extra support from an additional aide can prevent frustration and blow-ups.

    Any teacher who works with students whose disability involves physical aggression needs special crisis prevention training, which can include restraint training. The key is prevention.

  2. I would like to address the safety of the Teachers and personnel that work with these children. How do they protect themselves? Do we allow our teachers and personnel to be abused by such students. IDEA requires that we not punish or suspend students who break the rules if the act was a manifestation of their disability. When was the last time Congressman Miller was punched in the face? or spit on? or lunged for because the student is asked to read? I agree there should not be abuse, but let’s not allow the abuse of the teacher either.

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