Friday, July 16, 2010

U.S. Seclusion Bill Alert

photo credit-David Paul Ohmer
creative commons license

I subscribe to the Wrightslaw Special Ed Advocate Newsletter. The website (run by two people named "Wright"-who would have figured), which is a great source for getting/keeping yourself informed with all things having to do with special education law. They also publish a few books, which I have found helpful.

The use of restraints and seclusion in U.S. schools has been a fairly hot topic over the last few years in the U.S. There are at least 3 different (general) views on this. One, that all people deserve basic human rights, and tying them down and putting them into locked closets at school are not the type of thing that should be done to anyone. A second view (we'll refer to it as "the ignorant view", for lack of a better term), thinks that special ed kids shouldn't be mainstreamed with the general population in schools. And if they are, then if they are at all "disruptive" then it is perfectly OK to do "whatever it takes" to preserve peace and quiet in the schools, including tying kids down, putting them in locked closets, or having them arrested. And wouldn't things just be much better if they all just went back to "some other place" to be educated warehoused. A third view is (roughly) that any proposed laws will never do what we think they will do. The bills will just be used to normalize abnormal treatment of the disabled, including instituting/requiring ABA treatment as the "gold standard" of education cruel and unusual punishment.

Federal laws (referred to as "bills" before they are passed) are passed in the U.S. by being voted on by two houses of Congress, the House of Representatives (or just "House") and the Senate. After being signed by the President (or in some cases, even after them not being signed) the bill becomes law.

The U.S. House passed H.R. 4247 (the House version of the bill), and passed it on to the Senate. The Senate version is referred to as S. 2860. Evidently the Senate version would change how student's Individual Education Plans, or IEP's, are administered.

Wrightslaw sent out an e-mail alert today, stating:

The Senate would let school staff put restraint and seclusion in a child’s IEP or 504 plan. Call your Senators now and ask them to reject this proposal.

The Proposed Amendment to S. 2860 Will Take Away IDEA Rights. Unlike IDEA, 504, and ADA, the Restraint/Seclusion bill has been written to prevent parents from seeking to enforce it in with lawsuits.

The new law (S. 2860) would take precedence over the old law (IDEA).

The Wrightslaw alert also included these helpful instructions for taking action:

How to Call Your Senator

1. Always use the bill number, S. 2860, Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act. Please call; Senators pay more attention to calls. Email may get lost. Use Email only if you must.

2. Dial 202-224-3121 (TTY 202-225-1904) or go to, click on Senators for contact information (including local numbers). You will have 2 Senators. When you call, ask for their Education or Disability Aide. Leave a detailed voicemail message if they are not available. Be sure to identify the bill by name, Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act and use the number, S. 2860.

3. Please call your Senators - but especially if you live in these states on the Senate HELP Committee: AK, AZ, CO, CT, GA, IA, KS , MD, MN, NC, NH, NM, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, TN, UT, VT, WA, WY. If you are in these states, check the HELP Committee website so you call the Senator on the Committee, If you have friends or family in the Committee states, please get them to call. And even if you are not in a Committee state, please call. Senators from all over the country are impacting this bill.

4. Call Senator Tom Harkin and ask for his disability counsel (phone 202-224-3254, fax 202-224-9369). Senator Harkin chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and has much power over this bill. He needs to hear from parents and advocates from around the country; he certainly is hearing from the other side.

Here is a link to, which has a nice little "drop down" box on the top right to find your own state's senators, and to the committee page for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee,

Senator Tom Harkin, from Iowa, has always been a pretty good advocate for disability issues. He is also the Chair of this committee. Even if you don't live in his state, I urge you to contact him, and not let this portion of the bill be included.

For a brief overview of how U.S. laws are made, watch this:


Daisy said...

I love Schoolhouse Rock. I still teach with it.

All cartoon fun aside, thanks for sharing the details. If this bill passes, it would be a step backwards in educating children - all children.

Mrs. C said...

Thank you. I am afraid that the IEP "team" is really just the school and Mom is the rubber stamp. GOOD LUCK trying to get the school to do jack crap if they don't wanna. Bad enough when we're talking about reading coaches... but horrid when we're talking about including restraint and seclusion in the IEP "plan."

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the heads up!

farmwifetwo said...

Where's Estee Klar and the TAAP on this issue... no where to be found. Right there griping about how autistic kids aren't the sum of their genes.. got a letter in the editorial section that I can't even figure out what her point was in the end.... but restraints... "what restraints??"

20,000 cases of restraint use on children in group homes in Ontario last year and now they want to remove the reporting of these. They aren't allowed in schools but instead the kids are suspended every week....

Must be ok to use them... autistic kids don't end up in group homes... come to think of it... neither to autistic adults...


farmwifetwo said...

Off to write Letters to my MP, Autism Ontario and my FSW... Hopefully, Ms Klar will use some of her "politicking" clout as well to help. I'm going to have to put my son into care one day.... and I'm VERY VERY upset knowing that this can happen to him... Shaking actually....


Then there's the fact that after a year of group home care... and it doesn't have to be 12mths in a row... just 12 months... That you lose ALL parental rights and they become wards of the state...

Again... were are the autism societies, autism lobbiests, the bloggers... in this province???

Off to do some serious letter writing... someone has to give a damn... otherwise we might as well say "go ahead, their simply wards of the state... it's OK for you do to 'whatever' to them"... Like that story of the boy being restrained every day for 5yrs....

Cringe..... To this day I am always surprised my eldest son has done amazing. That he is not in one of those behavioural classrooms... When he was 6 I was certain by his teens he'd be in care... At 10 it's no longer a worry... What if??????

Anonymous said...

Sorry posted the wrong link.

Estee Klar said...

farmwife, you know well that I was going through a divorce and resettling Adam. That's where.