How Safe Is The Schoolhouse? An Analysis of State Seclusion and Restraint Laws and Policies

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The updated version of How Safe Is The Schoolhouse? An Analysis of State Seclusion and Restraint Laws and Policies by Jessica Butler has been published by the Autism National Committee.  The report is dated 3/30/2013 and is available at HowSafeSchoolhouse.pdf  The purpose of the report is to describe and analyze state restraint and seclusion statutes, regulations, and nonbinding guidelines, and includes maps and charts on the various issues.  Please feel free to forward or share this information.

The report finds that:

Seclusion and restraint are highly dangerous interventions that have led to death, injury, and trauma in children.  The GAO collected at least 20 stories of children who died in restraint.  Neither practice should be allowed when there is no emergency posing a danger to physical safety.  With no single federal seclusion or restraint law, America's 55 million school children are covered by a patchwork of state laws, regulations, nonbinding guidelines, and even utter silence.

 NOTE: Since the report was completed on 3/30/13, two states acted last week. Oregon banned free-standing seclusion cells or boxes.  Arizona passed a law permitting seclusion for any reason as long as parents consent or for emergencies threatening physical harm without consent.  Such unlimited consent laws exist in a handful of states.  AZ does not limit restraint.  This is not to demean the hard work of parents and advocates in these states to get these laws.  In some states, the battle can be very uphill.  But the purpose of the How Safe is the Schoolhouse report is to analyze state laws and compare them to certain national standards.

 Thanks to everyone for all of your work on restraint and seclusion, including the many cases, the many reports documenting harm in states and nationwide, etc.  These include the COPAA report and NDRN reports, and the many state P&A reports.  Having this information and documentation provided the context for the states analysis and made a big difference in explaining to readers why the states were measured against the various standards.


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