Rep. George Miller (D-CA), ranking member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, introduced a bill known as the Keeping All Students Safe Act on April 6th. The bipartisan legislation would prevent and reduce the use of inappropriate restraint and seclusion on public and private schoolchildren by establishing minimum safety standards in schools, similar to standards already in place in hospitals and non-medical community-based facilities. The bill first passed in the House last year with bipartisan support but was not voted on in the Senate.
“In the year since this legislation passed the House but failed to become law, more children were abused in school” says Rep. Miller. “The investigations and news reports about harmful restraint and seclusion show children being tied up with duct tape, sat on by untrained staff, locked in rooms for hours at a time—this behavior looks like torture. This legislation makes it very clear that there is no room for torture and abuse in America’s schools.”
In 2009 Rep. Miller requested that the U.S. Government Accountability Office conduct an investigation into allegations by the National Disability Rights Network that restraint and seclusion abuses were widespread in public and private schools. The GAO found hundreds of cases of abuse, most cases involving young children with disabilities. The report found children were bound with duct tape, rope, or bungee cords, locked alone in rooms for hours at a time, and hit or sat on by staff as routine disciplinary tactics rather than in response to an emergency. Such abuse can have lasting traumatic effects on young children. Several reported cases resulted in the student’s death when the restraint blocked air from entering the student’s lungs for an extended period of time.
Nonetheless, state regulations on the use of restraint and seclusion are irregular and inconsistent. Currently, 36% of states have no laws, policies, or regulatory guidance on the use of restraint and seclusion in schools. Additionally, 88% of states still allow the use of prone restraints, which may restrict breathing. Keeping All Students Safe Act requires a federal safety minimum to ensure the safety of school children.
Specifically, the legislation would limit physical restraint and locked seclusion only in cases of imminent danger or injury and only when administered by trained staff. Mechanical, chemical, and restricted breathing restraints would be prohibited, as would aversive behavioral interventions such as denying students water, food, clothing, or access to toilet facilities. Such methods of restraint would not be allowed as planned interventions in students’ education plans, including Individualized Education Programs. Schools would also be required to notify parents after incidents when restraint and seclusion were used.
Overall, the legislation seeks to increase transparency, oversight, and enforcement to prevent future abuse. NASSP fully supports the Keeping All Students Safe Act.
For more information on the legislation, visit http://democrats.edworkforce.house.gov/blog/2011/04/keeping-all-students-safe-act.shtml
Have you had to address a teacher about inappropriate content in his/her online profile?
Total Votes: 152
Probably more clueless than careless, many young teachers are entering the ranks of professional life and failing to consider how their collegiate online profiles continue to follow them. A Washington Post article highlights the issue and offers an anecdote of one administrator who reviews the teacher candidate’s Facebook profile with the candidate during an interview.
The words of one young teacher probably sums it up best: “I never thought about parents and students seeing [my Facebook profile].” And more and more principals are making it their jobs to get teachers to think about it. This poll is now closed, but we invite you to leave your comments on the results below.
Just before leaving for the August recess, lawmakers called attention to the issue of Internet safety and how to protect America’s children from online sexual predators.
On August 2, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) introduced the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act (S. 1965), a bill designed to increase public awareness of the dangers posed to children by the Internet and to develop technologies that would help parents protect their children from those dangers.
“This legislation will provide important tools to help protect our children from online predators and other cyber threats…The Internet is a significant part of many people’s lives, and we must ensure that our children are educated about how to safely use this resource,” Stevens said in a press release.
The Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act would:
Require schools receiving E-Rate funds to teach students about Internet safety and the dangers posed by social networking Web sites and chat rooms, and to provide information on cyberbullying awareness and response;
- Direct the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in collaboration with nonprofits, state and local governments, private technology companies, and Internet service providers, to conduct a public awareness campaign on strategies to promote the safe use of the Internet by children;
- Require the FTC to submit an annual report to Congress on its promotion of Internet safety;
- Authorize $5 million to carry out this campaign for both FY 2008 and FY 2009;
- Establish an Online Safety and Technology working group at the U.S. Commerce Department to review and evaluate industry efforts to promote online safety through parental control technology and blocking and filtering software. The working group will include representatives from the business community, public interest groups, and federal agencies.
- Require Internet service providers to report child pornography and significantly increases fines for failing to do so.
This legislation comes on the heels of efforts in both chambers to focus national attention on the issue of Internet safety.
At an August 3 press conference, Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced that the committee will hold hearings on the use of the Internet to perpetrate or facilitate sex crimes when Congress returns in September.
“We cannot allow the Internet to be a playground where our children are one mouseclick away from sexual predators. There have been several bills introduced that seek to strengthen federal tools of investigation and prosecution that are used to combat these crimes, and that are designed to toughen the federal laws that make such crimes illegal,” Conyers said in a statement.
NASSP understands that this is an important issue for students and administrators and has developed a position statement on Internet safety that provides guidance and recommendations for school leaders in their efforts to protect students while preparing them for the technologies they will encounter. To view this statement, please visit http://www.principals.org/s_nassp/sec.asp?CID=1285&DID=55883.