Disability Rights Ohio Applauds Introduction of the Keeping All Students Safe Act

February 13, 2014 / restraint and seclusion

Disability Rights Ohio applauds the introduction of the Keeping All Students Safe Act, a comprehensive legislative measure aimed at establishing standards and limitations on the use of restraint and seclusion interventions in school settings.

This important bill was introduced by Senator Tom Harkin on February 12, 2014 and co-sponsored by Senator Chris Murphy. Earlier this year, Representatives George Miller and Gregg Harper introduced similar bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. Disability Rights Ohio commends the Senators and Congressmen for their commitment to ensuring all students are safe in school, and looks forward to the bills moving forward in the legislative process.

Data indicates that students with disabilities experience the traumatizing effects of restraint and seclusion interventions at a disproportionately higher rate than other students. Disability Rights Ohio has successfully represented a number of students with disabilities who have been harmed and traumatized by such interventions, and has advocated at the state level for adoption of Ohio Department of Education rules to implement positive behavioral incentives and supports (PBIS), and limit if not eliminate the use of seclusion and restraint interventions. Disability Rights Ohio is working with members of the Ohio General Assembly on the recently introduced Ohio Senate Bill 266, which would help to address lingering seclusion and restraint policy gaps for Ohio’s community (i.e. charter) schools.

In 2012, the Columbus Dispatch and StateImpact Ohio released an investigative series entitled “Locked Away” on the use of seclusion in Ohio schools. More recently, a report released on February 12, 2014 by the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, provides an analysis of ten detailed case studies of the unnecessary harm to students and lack of recourse for parents in these situations. In spite of these reports, the many investigations by Disability Rights Ohio and others in the Protection and Advocacy (P&A) System, and the stories from individuals around the country, children and parents are still waiting for Congress to act to ensure the safety of students.

Disability Rights Ohio is encouraged with the introduction of the Keeping All Students Safe Act, and hopes that it will be a starting point to address the problems that the nation’s P&A Network have worked on: inconsistent (or in some states non-existent) standards on the use of restraint and seclusion in schools; parents and guardians not being informed of the use of restraint and seclusion; use of inherently dangerous intervention techniques with little to no training or monitoring; use of restraint and seclusion in situations that clearly do not call for the use of such techniques, and the lack of reporting of such incidents to help the proper authorities identify where systemic problems may exist that could be addressed with additional training.

For more information from Disability Rights Ohio on the use of restraint and seclusion in Ohio’s schools click here to see the restraint and seclusion resources on our special education page.

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