Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion
in Schools Act (H.R. 4247)

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Circulation: 75,173
ISSN: 1538-320

Across America, children are restrained, confined in seclusion rooms, and subject to aversive interventions. Roughly half of all states have little or no legal protections against restraint and seclusion in school. In several states, efforts to pass laws and adopt regulations have failed.

On December 9, 2009, the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act, HR 4247 was introduced by Congressman George Miller (D-CA) and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). A companion bill was also introduced in the Senate by Senator Chris Dodd and is numbered S 2860.

This issue of the Special Ed Advocate contains a comprehensive overview of the proposed legislation in a new article by Jessica Butler, Esquire. You'll find the provisions of H.R.4247 and will learn about the safeguards in the bill, what is prohibited, how it will impact children with disabilities, and the requirements for compliance and data reporting.

Please don't hesitate to forward this issue to other friends, families, or colleagues.

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Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act: What Does it Mean for Children with Disabilities?

H.R.4247 and S.2860 have real strengths that will significantly protect children with disabilities. The bill bans:

  • the use of mechanical and chemical restraints
  • restraints that impede breathing
  • aversives that compromise health and safety
  • using restraint and seclusion for "educational disruptions"

The bill permits physical restraint and locked seclusion only when there is an imminent risk of physical injury and requires direct face-to-face monitoring of children, enabling quick detection of distress and illness.

Read Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act: What Does it Mean For Children with Disabilities? by Jessica Butler, Esquire.

This article is available as a printer-friendly PDF document and in html:


IEPs, BIPs, and Educational Plans

The bill will prohibit physical restraint and locked seclusion from being included in IEPs, BIPs, or other student educational plans.

This prevents schools from circumventing the law through the IEP.

H.R. 4247 requires:

  • a strong positive behavioral intervention component
  • the reporting of data
  • the systematic training of staff

It also requires personnel to always ensure that less-restrictive measures are used, rather than using a plan that always ends in restraint/seclusion.

The Department of Education must issue regulations six months after the bill is enacted, and the states must provide assurances of compliance to the Department within 2 years. In this new article you'll find more about the role of US DOE, State responsibility, and reporting data.

What Can You Do?

Read about the strengths and weaknesses in the new bill, how it can be improved, then find out How to Contact Congress.


National Reports on Restraint and Seclusion

Seclusions and Restraints from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO-09-719T).

School is Not Supposed to Hurt. Investigative Report on Abusive Restraint and Seclusion in Schools from the National Disability Rights Network.

Out of Darkness...Into the Light: Seclusion and Restraint of Wisconsin Children from Disability Rights Wisconsin.

Unsafe in the Schoolhouse from COPAA, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (author: Jessica Butler).

Abuse and Restraints in School


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