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Abuse, Restraints and Seclusion in School
Legislative Advocacy
Use of Restraints as Discipline l Physical & Sexual Abuse l Time Out/Seclusion
Positive Behavior Support (PBS) l Protection & Advocacy
Resources l Publications l Cases
l Legislative Advocacy

02/12/15 Rep Donald Beyer introduces the Keeping All Students Safe Act, H.R.927.

Senator Tom Harkin introduces “Keeping All Students Safe Act” to establish safe school culture and prohibit the use of dangerous seclusion and restraints. Senator Harkin unveiled an investigative report that shows families whose children are being subjected to dangerous seclusion and restraint practices have little or no recourse through school procedures or thorough the courts. (February 12, 2014)

May 9, 2013: Restraint/Seclusion Bill Introduced in U.S. House of Representatives

Congressman George Miller (D-CA), ranking member of the House Education & Workforce Committee and Congressman Gregg Harper (R-MS) introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act, HR 1893, a bill to protect all students nationwide from restraint and seclusion.

We salute and applaud them for their leadership in working to ensure that all students receive positive behavioral supports rather than be subjected to these dangerous practices.

Thanks to everyone who signed onto the letter from 200 organizations in support of the bill. The letter was shared with members of Congress by Congressman Miller's staff in advance of introduction.

This is a summary of important points about the Keeping Students Safe Act, HR 1893, and reasons to support it.

Please contact your members of Congress and ask them to Cosponsor and Support the Keeping All Students Safe Act, HR 1893. Dial 202-224-3121; ask for your Representative’s Office, and then ask for the education aide. If you are unable to call and need to use email, go to (You can also find your Representative’s name here.) But please try to call if you can. I have attached a copy of the bill.

Wrightslaw Legislative Advocacy Alert: May 14, 2013

How Safe Is The Schoolhouse? An Analysis of State Seclusion and Restraint Laws and Policies (PDF) (March 2015) by Jessica Butler. This Report has been updated to include changes made in 2012 and early 2013 to state restraint and seclusion laws and policies and more fully discusses laws applicable to all children. Get a bullet point overview of the information and the status of all state seclusion and restraint policies.

Restraint and Seclusion Resource Document. (May 2012, US DOE) Describes 15 principles to consider when states, localities, and districts develop policies and procedures which should be in writing on the use of restraint and seclusion.

Congressman Miller rolls out Seclusion and Restraint webpage. "Beyond Seclusion and Restraint: Creating Positive Learning Environments for All Student," Senate Hearings to be broadcast live, May 17 re-scheduled for June 28, 2012. 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.

Alert! 01/24/12. Ask Your Senators to Cosponsor S.2020 - Keeping All Students Safe Act. Find more information about this bill, why it is important and link to a sample email message.

National, State and Local groups are urged to sign on in support of the Act at

Update: 12/16/11. Keeping All Students Safe Act (s.2020) introduced in the Senate by HELP Chairman Senator Tom Harkin.

Is a Bird in the Hand Really Worth Two in the Bush?

Update: 09/29/10. Senator Dodd introduces a new restraint and seclusion bill, S. 3895, the Keeping All Students Safe Act. Senator Dodd's floor speech from the Congressional Record. The bill was referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee.

Eye on the Prize - Keeping All Students Safe

Update: 03/03/10. Houses Approves Keeping All Students Safe Act (HR 4247).

By a vote of 262-153, the House passed the bill to protect schoolchildren from harmful restraint and seclusion. This bipartisan bill establishes, for the first time, federal minimum safety standards in schools, preventing harmful restraint and seclusion. The Keeping All Students Safe Act is the first national effort to address this problem.

Proposed Legislation: Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (H.R.4247), contains a comprehensive overview of the proposed legislation (December 2009) in a new article by Jessica Butler, Esquire

Update: 02/04/10. This morning, the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (H.R. 4247) passed out of the House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor by a vote of 34-10. H.R. 4247 would establish the first federal standards to protect students from misuse of restraint and seclusion, and ensure the safety of everyone in the classroom. The bill will now head to the House floor for a full vote.

Update: 02/02/10. The House Committee on Education and Labor will mark up the Congressional restraint/seclusion bill this Thursday, February 4. During mark-up, the Congressional Committee will consider the bill and any proposed changes, and vote on a bill to send to the House Floor. Read more.

Should IEPs Include Restraint and Seclusion? 10 Minute Activist: Tell Congress!

Track the bill - select "Bill Number" and enter H.R.4247

Abusive Interventions: Timeline and Actions

Alert! New Law to Prevent Abuse in Schools. On Wednesday, December 9, 2009, George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) introduced the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (H.R. 4247). This legislation  is intended to protect children from the harmful use of restraint and seclusion at school.
Link to this Alert:

New Report! - Seclusions and Restraints (pdf) from the US Goverment Accountability Office (GAO-09-719T). Selected Cases of Death and Abuse at Public and Private Schools and Treatment Centers. Testimony Before the Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives. 05/19/09 (Accessible text format)

New Complaint! - Complaint filed in Disability Rights of NC v. Wake Co Bd of Ed and Robert Sturey in abuse & restraints case (pdf) 09/16/08

Children with disabilities are sometimes left open to potential abuse when those who are charged with their care do not understand the difference between "bad behavior" and "behavior as communication". The term "behavior as communication" refers to a child's effort to communicate dislikes, needs, desires, etc. but cannot do so because of a communication deficit (ie. no speech, limited speech). Sometimes happiness can look the same as sadness, anger the same as excitement...emotions can be very hard to distinguish.

When a child's "behavior" is seen merely as bad behavior and not as an effort to communicate, the child can become even more frustrated thus causing escalation. Adults who are not properly trained to distinguish these "behaviors" or to decipher the "communication" attempts can sometimes escalate the child to a critical point when the use of physical and/or mechanical restraint comes into play.

Imagine that you cannot express your thoughts in a way that others can easily understand. Now, imagine that you are a child who cannot communicate your fears, likes, dislikes, or pain. Imagine being misunderstood constantly. Imagine having others schedule every moment of your life without knowing what you would like to do. This is reality for some children. Is it any wonder that these children get frustrated?

It is essential that parents and school personnel realize that IDEA provides safeguards for these children. If a child's "behavior" gets in the way of his or her education (or that of others), certain steps must be taken in order to ensure FAPE.

"Something is Very Wrong When are Children are Unsafe at School," said
George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. On December 9, 2009, Congressman Miller and Cagresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) introduced the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act.

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Created: 05/14/15

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