Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Parents Of Students With Special Needs Want Law On Seclusion & Restraint Policies

    Boryana Katsarova / AFP / Getty Images

    Special education advocates say Indiana needs formal rules governing the use of seclusion rooms and physical restraint.

    Indiana schools aren’t required to have formal policies on seclusion and restraint, but the families of students with special needs are urging state lawmakers to reconsider. From Indiana Public Broadcasting‘s Brandon Smith:

    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.

    In January, a representative for Glenda Ritz’s office who testified in favor of the bill when it was before the Senate Education Committee said the state superintendent wants to ensure districts retain local control over teacher training.

    But others have questioned whether it would be helpful for the Indiana Department of Education to develop guidance for schools rather than let districts develop their own policies.

    For more, check out the conversation I had with advocates and educators about seclusion and restraint on WFIU’s Noon Edition earlier this month.


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