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“Keeping All Students Safe Act” to be reintroduced by Harkin at Wednesday event

February 11, 2014

On Wednesday, February 12, Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), will host an event to discuss the findings of a Committee investigation into the obstacles faced by parents whose children were secluded or restrained in public schools.

Featured to speak at the event will be 19-year-old former Lexington, MA student Robert Ernst, who came forward with his story of having been locked in a seclusion room at school in the wake of the New York Times article “A Terrifying Way to Discipline Students” which exposed the use of physical restraints and isolation rooms in Lexington, MA and nationwide.

“It was very scary!” said Robert at the time. “I would be left in there until I had been deemed calm enough to go back into the regular school building, and they’d just leave me in there for as long as they thought that would take.”

Following the event Sen. Harkin will reintroduce the Keeping All Students Safe Act, which would curtail the use of physical restraints and seclusion rooms in schools throughout the country.

While the use of seclusion and restraints are prohibited in other settings, tens of thousands of children are subjected to these practices in the classroom each school year. Many of these children are physically and emotionally harmed by the use of seclusion and restraints. This investigation documents the inability of some families to effectively address the use of seclusion and restraints practices and to positively affect change in school practices.

Senator Harkin will discuss the results of the investigation as well as his introduction of Keeping All Students Safe Act, which aims to ensure effective implementation of positive behavioral interventions in our nation’s schools. 

Watch and listen to Sen. Harkin, Robert Ernst and the event live online Weds. (2/12) at 10AM Eastern at http://help.senate.gov/ and join the national discussion about restraint and seclusion in schools on Twitter before, during and after at #KeepStudentsSafe. 

Members of the media interested in attending the event can RSVP to Allison Preiss at allison_preiss@help.senate.gov

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