NCD Letter to Congress Regarding Introduction of Keeping All Students Safe Act

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November 28, 2018

The Honorable Patty Murray
Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
154 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Chris Murphy
U.S. Senate
136 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Robert C. Scott
Ranking Member
U.S. House Committee on Education & the Workforce
1201 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Don Beyer
U.S. House of Representatives
1119 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Ranking Member Murray, Senator Murphy, Ranking Member Scott and Congressman Beyer:

I write on behalf of the National Council on Disability (NCD) -- an independent federal agency with the mission to advise the President, Congress and other federal agencies on disability policy issues – to applaud the introduction of the “Keeping All Students Safe Act” (H.R. 7124). Although all children should be protected from unreasonable restraint and seclusion in school, as NCD noted in the 2015 report, Breaking the School to Prison Pipeline for Students with Disabilities, “…students served by IDEA represent 12 percent of the student population but 58 percent of those placed in seclusion and 75 percent of those physically restrained.” The proposed legislation recognizes and agrees with the position that NCD has taken that no school should receive federal funds when their policies and procedures lead to the unnecessary, inappropriate and disproportionate restraint and seclusion of children with disabilities. The Keeping All Students Safe Act recognizes that, while schools have a responsibility to maintain an educational environment that is conducive to learning, the use of seclusion and the use of mechanical, physical and chemical restraints is dangerous and can cause long-term harm and even death.

NCD has consistently opposed the use of seclusion and aversive behavioral therapies,[1] and likewise support the ban on these inappropriate forms of discipline in this legislation. This legislation prohibits seclusion and any form of restraint that restricts breathing, is life threatening or that is a planned intervention; prohibits the use of aversive behavior interventions; requires certification of staff that engages in physical restraint that meets minimum standards; and requires parental notification and follow-up if a child is physically restrained. These protections will go a long way towards making sure that all children, including children with disabilities, are safe and school and not subject to harmful restraint and seclusion.

NCD looks forward to working with your offices to educate policymakers in Congress and the Administration about the importance of eliminating inappropriate restraint and seclusion, and we welcome this important piece of legislation that would make significant progress towards accomplishing these goals.

Respectfully,

 

Neil Romano
Chairman