New legislation titled the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in the Schools Act, H.R. 4247, S. 2860, was introduced in Congress this week. The bill come in response to report released last spring by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) which detailed hundreds of cases of the inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion in schools, with a disproportionate number of the victims being students with disabilities. If it is successfully passed, this legislation would provide the first federal standards regarding the use of restraint and seclusion and schools; standards which would apply to all public schools, private schools, and preschools receiving federal funds. 

Provisions of the proposed bill include the following:
  • Restricting the use of physical restraint and locked seclusion to instances where there is imminent danger of injury, and requiring that these interventions be imposed only by trained staff;
  • Completely outlawing the use of mechanical restraints;
  • Requiring that schools inform parents after seclusion or restraint interventions have been used; and
  • Requiring states to develop policies, procedures, and monitoring and enforcement systems necessary to comply with the standards of the law.

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