Congressional lawmakers debated a bill today designed to protect students from abusive restraints in school settings. The U.S. House passed the Keeping All Students Safe Act this evening, with a vote of 262-153.
If it passes the Senate, the bill will only allow restraints to be used on children in imminent danger of injury. It prohibits mechanical restraints outright, and chemical (or pharmaceutical) restraints without a doctor's prescription. The bill also requires schools to notify parents after restraint or seclusion incidents.
The measure is a response to reports like this one in the Texas Tribune, and to a recent U.S. GAO investigation that found hundreds of kids were being abused by improper restraints and seclusions in U.S. schools. In some cases, the kids were killed.
On the House floor this afternoon, U.S. Rep. George Miller, chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, shared the story of Cedric Napoleon, a Killeen foster child who was killed after a special education teacher restrained him by sitting on him. The Tribune wrote about Napoleon's case here.
"We have federal laws in place to prevent these types of abuses from happening in hospitals and other community-based facilities that receive federal funding. But currently there are no federal laws on the books to protect children from these abuses in schools, where they spend most of their time," Miller, D-California, said in a prepared statement. "Without a federal standard, state policies and oversight vary wildly, leaving children vulnerable."
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