House Passes HR 4247 Keeping All Students Safe Act

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     Last week the House of Representatives voted 262 to 153 to pass HR 4247 the Keeping All  Students Safe Act. This legislation was introduced last December as the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act. The legislation directs the Secretary of Education to establish minimum standards that:

(1) prohibit elementary and secondary school personnel from managing students by using mechanical or chemical restraint, physical restraint or escort that restricts breathing, or aversive behavioral intervention that compromises student health and safety;

(2) prohibits school staff from using physical restraint unless needed to eliminate an imminent danger of physical injury to the student or others;

(3) requires states to ensure school staff receive training in crisis intervention and effective student management techniques;

(4) prohibits physical restraint and seclusion from being written into a student's IEP as a planned intervention;

(5) requires schools to establish procedures to notify parents if physical restraint or seclusion is imposed on their child;

(6) requires states, within two years, to establish procedures to monitor and enforce these standards regulating the use of restraint and seclusion.

(7) gives Protection and Advocacy Systems the authority under the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 to investigate, monitor, and enforce the Act's protections of students.

     Prior to the passage of the Act, the Secretary of Education requested that State Education Agencies review their restraint and seclusion policies and report to the Department of Education. Based on the response to that request, it is clear that states do not have uniform and effective policies regulating the use of abusive restraint in schools. For a summary of current state policies on the use of restraint see Summary Table of Seclusion and Restraint Statutes, Regulations, Policies and Guidance, by State and Territories. The Act will now need to be approved by the Senate, where Senator Chris Dodd has introduced a companion bill.