Recommendations from the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and its division, the Council for Children with Behavior Disorders (CCBD), played a key role in bipartisan legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives today that aims to protect children from misuse of restraint and seclusion practices.
The legislation, introduced by U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, and U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), a member of the Committee and vice chair of the House Republican Conference, is the first national effort to address harmful restraint and seclusion. Restraint and seclusion, if used appropriately, can be effective tools when dealing with children with behavioral issues.
“CEC applauds Chairman. Miller and Rep. McMorris Rodgers for their leadership and supports these efforts to provide a unified system of support for children, youth and professionals,” said Deborah Zeigler, CEC’s associate executive director for policy and advocacy services.
“CEC pledges to work with the field to assist in the implementation of this legislation and to continue to foster good evidence-based practices that will ensure that all students are protected from extreme and inappropriate use of physical restraint and seclusion in schools,” Ziegler said.
CCBD released two position statements on restraint and seclusion last spring to provide schools with alternative procedures which can be used to help staff in emergency situations. Many of the recommendations in the statements, the result of CCBD and CEC’s work, are key elements of the legislation, including:
- that states receive assistance in offering and monitoring trainings programs.
- that support for the implementation of preventative school-wide measures like positive behavior intervention is provided.
- that parents be notified following an incident.
The release of the special education policy recommendations coincided with a hearing held by Chairman Miller, “Examining the Abusive and Deadly Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Schools.” Witnesses testified on the use of these procedures and were joined by family members of children who have been harmed by the improper use of seclusion and restraint.
“The Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders has long been concerned with the issue of children who are being inappropriately secluded and/or restrained in the nation’s schools,” said Alec F. Peck, president of CCBD. “As we have recommended, this legislation would provide schools with procedures that can be used to help students regain self-control in emergency situations and to prepare staff to use conflict de-escalation procedures proactively. Staff should be using restraint and/or seclusion only when absolutely necessary.”