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Parents Testify Against Seclusion Rooms At Statehouse

The House Education Committee plans to vote next week on a bill that would help create guidelines for how schools and teachers restrain and seclude students.

Lawmakers want to regulate how students, especially special needs children, are restrained and secluded in a school environment.

A bill in the House Education Committee would establish a commission to develop guidelines and recommendations for how schools and teachers restrain and seclude students. Family members of special needs children spoke at the committee hearing about why such a measure is needed.

Nate Searcy says school officials duct taped the feet of his daughter, who has Down syndrome, after she repeatedly tried to take her shoes off. Searcy says teachers need to be properly trained to deal with those sorts of issues

“It left bruises. It left marks. She’s obviously physically traumatized from it,” Searcy says. “She talks about it on a daily basis: ‘No more duct tape. It hurts.’”

Nicole Hicks’ autistic son was physically removed from his fourth-grade classroom and isolated in the corner of a room. She says after multiple incidents, her son said teachers sat on him to restrain him, and she says her son has not been the same since.

“He shut down completely,” Hicks says. “He refused to leave our home even for simple trips to go to the store or to see his grandparents.  His self-care skills stopped.”

Some committee members expressed concern that the bill would over regulate the issue and leave teachers open to lawsuits. The legislation is up for changes and a vote in the committee next week.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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