In 2009, the first version of the Keeping All Students Safe Act was introduced to the House by Democrats. It is coming up for re-introduction again January 2019.
What is this act?
The Keeping All Students Safe Act is an act proposed by Representatives Bobby Scott and Don Beyer. This act would prevent physical restraints and seclusions in school and make sure that those measures would only be used when the student poses a threat to themselves, the school, or others.
Why do we need it?
Students with disabilities covered under IDEA only make up 12% of the student population. However, the proportion at which they are disciplined by restraint and seclusion is ridiculous. Students with disabilities make up 71% of all students who are physically restrained. They also make up 66% of all students put in seclusion. Students with disabilities are disproportionally being punished in extreme ways.
According to Bobby Scott, “Every school should be a safe and welcoming place where all students can get a quality education. Unfortunately, thousands of students are still subjected to dangerous seclusion and restraint practices, which research shows make schools less safe…While it is encouraging that some states have begun to prohibit or limit the use of seclusion and restraint, it is important that Congress pass the Keeping All Students Safe Act, which would establish a nationwide minimum safety standard. Moreover, this legislation would provide states and teachers the support they need to improve their schools’ culture by using on evidence-based interventions.”
What can I do?
You can contact your local representatives and tell them that the data shows that students with disabilities are being disproportionately punished using seclusion and restraint. You can tell them that you support the Keeping All Students Safe Act. If you are a student with a disability and have been put in seclusion or in restraints, you can tell them your story and how that negatively impacted your life. To contact your House representatives, go here. To contact your Senators, go here.