Will the Senate Pass the Restraint & Seclusion Bill?

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Call your Senators and ask them to pass S.2860, the restraint/seclusion bill as it passed the House.  Dial 202-224-3121 or go to http://www.senate.gov, click on Senators for contact information (including local numbers).  Ask for your Senator’s Education Aide or HELP Committee aide, and leave a detailed voicemail message if they are unavailable. (More contact details below)

Three months ago, the House approved its restraint/seclusion bill (H.R. 4247), passing the baton to the Senate to approve S. 2860, the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act sponsored by Senator Dodd.

Attorney Jessica Butler says “the bills are groundbreaking” and asks Senator Harkin and Senator Enzi to lead the Senate in passing the Restraint/Seclusion bill as approved by the House.

“The bill would protect all 53 million children in America including 7 million with disabilities, whether in public or private school, from harmful restraint/seclusion and also aversives that compromise health and safety. But opponents of the bill want it changed.”  Ask the Senate to support the bill. Find out how…

Jessica describes how opponents of the bills have fought hard in the Senate and the House. Shortly before the House voted, they began lobbying fiercely to protect their rights to use these methods.

  • Some advocates and parents wanted to exclude private schools that use aversives from the bill.
  • Others wanted to permit restraint/seclusion in IEPs with little limitation, and if not IEPs, then a student plan written by staff, outside of IDEA and its procedural protections, least restrictive environment requirements, and stay-put.

If they cannot have this, they want the bill stopped.

Some Congressmen think that if restraint, seclusion, or aversives are included in the IEP, it is by fully-informed parent agreement, and this is sufficient to protect children.

They need to know what the IEP process is really like, how too often parents are forced to accept things by school employees, how little control parents have.

Congress needs to hear your stories and your clients’ stories about the IEP process. If you have experience with FBAs and positive interventions and how those help resolve difficult behaviors, share those experiences.

To learn more details about this proposed law, read Will the Senate Pass the Restraint and Seclusion Bill? Or Instead Make it Easier to Use Aversives, Retraint, and Seclusion? by Jessica Butler, Esq.


Ask the Senate to Pass the House Bill

1. Call your Senators and ask them to pass S.2860, the restraint/seclusion bill as it passed the House.  Dial 202-224-3121 or go to www.senate.gov, click on Senators for contact information (including local numbers).  Ask for your Senator’s Education Aide or HELP Committee aide, and leave a detailed voicemail message if they are unavailable.

Ask them to pass the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act, S. 2860, just as the House passed it in March.

  • Explain why there shouldn’t be loopholes for private schools that use aversives; or broad general loopholes to include restraint/seclusion in IEPs.
  • Share restraint/seclusion/aversive stories.
  • If you don’t have these stories, tell a story about your personal experience with the inequalities in the IEP process, and ask that they protect children from these kinds of inequalities in the restraint/seclusion bill.
  • Make the point that simply having the IEP process is not enough to protect children.  Tell them how positive interventions can really make a difference.
  • Tell them the bill may be made part of the ESEA Reauthorization (what used to be NCLB), and they should watch for the bill there, too.

Calls are much better than email.  If you cannot call due to disability or other severe restraints, please send an email but perhaps ask a friend to also make a call. Congress pays greater attention to phone calls and voicemail messages. And they need a lot of them right now.

2. Consider sharing your views on S. 2860 with Senator Harkin and Senator Enzi, who lead the Senate Committee.  Senator Harkin, the Committee Chair: phone 202-224-3254, fax 202-224-9369); Senator Enzi, the leading Republican, phone 202-224-3424 (fax 202-228-0359).  The other side has lobbied them, even coming in for visits.

When Congress does not hear from you, they assume the other side is telling the truth about what parents want and need.  Your voice and experiences as family members and advocates for children with disabilities matter.

3. Share this information with friends, neighbors, and colleagues or write your own, and ask them to make a call, too.

4.  Even if you opposed the House bill because you thought it wasn’t strong enough, please consider calling the Senate.  Let them know that private schools that use aversives should be covered by the bill. Let them know that there shouldn’t be broad IEP loopholes. And tell them your stories about IEP unfairness, too.  You can do this without saying that you support the bill.

  1. Hello,

    I have just received the alert and push to call our Senators for no R/S.

    I am a teacher for special needs students, but I am also a parent of ADHD, Autism/Aspergers, and depressed boys.
    There are some times that students need to be put in seclusion and to use restraints until they are removed from an area of danger to themselves or others.

    I teach students with behavioral needs and with ASD students. In 3 years I have only had to restrain two students, and I restrained them long enough for them to calm down so I could sit them in my lap to talk to them.
    I believe when you make such comments about no restraints and seclusion that you are forcing our students back into self-contained classes. All of my students are full inclusion students, and if we cannot restrain or put them in seclusion/time-out when they are out of

  2. I’m a teacher at CPS/Illinois in a special education school for boys with ED/BD that I worked for a while students very often secluded and restrained by so called “security guards.” I don’t know what these guards’ limit of authority is but many times I witnessed that the students in lover grades (4,5,6), as well as the short and small ones were beaten, hit, and when they fall on the floor, they were kicked by two teacher aides until they calm down and stop misbehaving. I wanted to talk to the principal but she refused to talk about this matter. I believe this is horrible and unacceptable.

    I also believe that if the school administrators ignore these facts and – by doing so – encourage those who mistreat the students with emotional behavioral challenges, this act will never help those who are very often victimized by school personnel

  3. I am a special education assistant that is part of a school district Autism team. I have personally witnessed teachers and para educators wrongfully restraining students. These educators have been through “training” yet often seclude and or restrain students without positive behavior support or deescalating techniques. I am very concerned that so called “trained” persons actually inflict corporal punishment upon these students. My concern is that some consider proper “training” to be one 8 hour day annually.

  4. I’m sorry, this bill needs to be fixed. My son attends a fantastic ABA school that uses FBA, Positive Behavioral Supports — and restraint when necessary. His aggressions have gone from 40 per day to 1 every 6 weeks.

    He has a five page behavior plan. The first 3 pages are positive behavioral supports, including sensory diet, and de-escalation techniques. The last two pages describe the circumstances under which he can be restrained, by whom (including required training), how, and how to get out of it safely. His plan keeps him safe. Without it he would be at greater risk.

    The bill needs to be amended to allow individualized plans, including appropriate restraint by highly trained staff.

  5. I have personal experience with two children in my family who have been restrained and secluded throughout their schooling. One of them has actually come to seek it out during times of extreme stress. He was placed in a school out of district by a judge in a juvenile delinquency case. That school had almost daily or at least weekly episodes of him being restrained or secluded. They even trained me how to safely restrain children. But the training focused on de-escalation techniques and restraint was only ever used when there was actual physical threat of harm by the child to themselves or others. Their approach was to teach my child the skills to self-regulate and find space before staff intervention. We discovered that both children have severe brain dysfunction and lacked skills to communicate their inner state. Check out Dr.Ross Greene

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