The Keeping All Students Safe Act (S.2020)

As a mental health therapist who provides services in two school districts and consults to numerous early childhood programs, and as a prior special education school social worker, I am compelled to share with you a new piece of legislation that needs your support. 

According to the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, "Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act (S. 2020) in response to an alarming report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that found hundreds of cases of alleged abuse and even deaths of children -- most of them with disabilities -- as a result of restraint and seclusion in schools. No federal laws regulate the use of restraint and seclusion in schools, and state laws vary widely." 

The Keeping All Students Safe Act (S. 2020)

The Keeping All Students Safe Act (S. 2020) would reduce (but not eradicate) the use of restraints and seclusionary practices within school settings.  Restraint and seclusion practices are often unregulated. They may also be applied when more effective prevention and behavioral interventions would be appropriate.  Unfortunately, students with disabilities most often are impacted by the use of restraint and seclusion.  We must protect ALL students, but particularly our most vulnerable.

Physical Injury, Psychological Trauma and Death
Over 200 Deaths in Five Years

According to a press release regarding this (S. 2020) legislation:

(R)estraints and seclusion have resulted in physical injury and psychological trauma to thousands of students in public and private schools throughout the country, many of them students with disabilities. Estimates from the GAO are that over 200 students have died due to seclusion and restraints being used in schools over the past five years.This bill would prohibit the use of seclusion in locked and unattended rooms or enclosures, prohibit the use of mechanical and chemical restraints and physical restraints that restrict breathing, and prohibit aversive behavioral interventions that compromise health and safety. The bill would also:

•Prohibit the use of physical restraints except for emergency situations,
Prohibit the use of physical restraints that inhibit a student’s primary means of communication
•Prohibit the use of seclusions and/or restraints in a student’s Individual Education Plan or any other behavioral plan
•Call for states to promote preventative programming to reduce the use of restraints

•Call for states to collect data on the occurrence of seclusions and restraints
•Call for schools to conduct a debriefing with parents and staff after a restraint is used and plan for positive behavioral interventions that will prevent the use of restraints with the student in the future.
•Establish a state grant program to enhance the State’s ability to promote, within its LEAs, preventative programming and training for school personnel

A Simple Phone Call Can Change Everything

You can help by making a quick phone call.  You can find your two U.S. senators' phone number here , or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

Help Spread the Word

You can help spread the word about this legislation, by blogging about it (feel free to use our graphic), tweeting it, sharing on facebook and pinterest, and anywhere else you like to hang out. 

Let's make this world a better (and safer) place for ALL students!


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