H.R. 4247, The Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (16 comments ↓ | 8 wiki edits: view article ↓)

  • This item is from the 111th Congress (2009-2010) and is no longer current. Comments, voting, and wiki editing have been disabled, and the cost/savings estimate has been frozen.

H.R. 4247 would prevent and reduce the use of physical restraint and seclusion in schools.

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WashingtonWatch.com Digest – February 22, 2010

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School is Not Supposed to Hurt

But for some kids it does, according to proponents of H.R. 4247, the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act. Among other things, the bill would prohibit elementary and secondary school personnel from managing any student using mechan...

WashingtonWatch.com Digest – March 1, 2010

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Visitor Comments Comments Feed for This Bill

sheila hadden

December 30, 2009, 8:24pm (report abuse)

My child was abused in the public schools This bill needs to be passed.The schools are protected under sovreign immunity and it impossible for these children to be protected in the schools. We have been in litagation for 5 years

these children need to have more rights.This is coming from a mother who has an autistic little

girl and has been a victim of abuse

from her teacher.

Joan M

February 22, 2010, 4:12pm (report abuse)

As a parent of a child who was abused in the public school system I think we only know the tip of the iceberg on how bad this problem really is. It's been a well kept secret from most parents by public school staff who have gotten away with this abuse way too long. If I did to my son what school staff did to him I would have been arrested and DCF would have taken him away from me.

Public School Districts have way too much POWER and they have abused that power way too long!!!

Kate Johns

February 25, 2010, 5:18pm (report abuse)

As a teacher of children with Autism, I support 90% of what this bill proposes. BUT: the requirement that makes it illegal for schools to write restraint or seclusion into a student's individualized behavior plan could be EXTRAORDINARILY HARMFUL to the students I work with. For students with dangerous behaviors, planning for and customizing the use of restraint for that individual student's behaviors allows us to use it least often and most effectively. It also ensures that the parent/guardian has signed on, fully understands what may occur, and has given consent. If students are only allowed to be restrained in emergency situations without any planning or criteria, there is a GREATER risk or harm or excessive force. PLEASE tell your congressperson to reconsider the language in this bill, so that we can continue to offer our students the least restrictive, effective treatment we can, as they are entitled to.

Desirae Wojtanowski

February 26, 2010, 1:08pm (report abuse)

My 7 year has Autism and was restrained on numerous occasions and was placed in seclusion for 4 hours. Even after he was calmed down an asked to return to class. They ignored his request and told he was a prisoner. The "jail" was a bath room. I only found out because CPS was notified and they called me!

This Bill needs to be passed ASAP!

Kate, understand what you are saying. And under emergency situations it is necessary. But only when there is threat of bodily harm to others or self. With strict guidelines as to how long. Don't forget Autistic Children are tactile defensive. In my son's case it sent him into an anxiety attack and made the situation worse. And had a residual effect on how I was able to calm him after those periods of restraint.

They need this Bill to pass for their protection. Most times like my son, he doesn't come and tell me what happened. This Bill will be his voice!

Not so fast

February 28, 2010, 2:44pm (report abuse)

Given enough sympathetic stories, is there anything the federal government won't get involved in? Anything? I ask you.


March 1, 2010, 10:23am (report abuse)

isn't abuse already against the law. why do politicians keep thinking that more laws create a more civil society. how about better parents and better teachers.

Neal Gilchrist

March 1, 2010, 3:04pm (report abuse)

School isn't supposed to hurt, true. But not all students are peaceful, good kids. Some are anti-social and violent and pose a threat to other students and staff as well. Putting unthinking restraints on handling those few who are a danger puts all people at risk. Like "armygirl" said, abuse is already a crime

Kathleen Elsie

March 1, 2010, 5:55pm (report abuse)

As someone that has worked with children with special needs I agree that school should not hurt. That being said I have been sent to the ER more then once with a broken nose when a child gets out of control and I needed to protect the other children. This is not an easy fix and I don't have the solution. One on one does not always work. One 10 year old I worked with had to have two adults in the room for only him when he got out of control. Maybe before we make a law we need to find a reasonable solution for all involved.


March 1, 2010, 10:32pm (report abuse)

I read some of the government reports that talked about how restraint & seclusion has been abused and I was really shocked. I teach kids with autism and I had no idea that other teachers around the country were engaging in such blatant abuse. That being said, I think that a written plan could have protected these kids!! If a child is tactile defensive for example, a written plan with parent signature could have specifically stated that he MAY NOT be restrained. Teachers would think twice before laying a hand on a child who has a written plan with parent & adminstrative signature stating exactly what may and my not be done. A written signed plan would make schools ACCOUNTABLE, on paper, and responsible for only using pre-approved interventions with a child. The plan could state all positive methods for calming and de-escalating that particular child. I truly believe using written plans will PROTECT children by providing more oversight and accountability.


March 1, 2010, 10:40pm (report abuse)

I should also add, as Kathleen stated above, that I too have been sent to the ER with various injuries and I know parents who have been sent to the ER after their child assaulted them. I know kids who bite through their skin and draw blood; I know kids with permanent nerve damage from injuring themselves so much. I know kids who punch through glass, choke people within an inch of consciousness... and I guarantee you none of them WANT to behave this way. No child would choose to live with these behaviors. If they could speak for themselves, I think they would choose to learn how to be calm, even if it meant being safely restrained sometimes. I know I would, if it were me. For these kids, written plans are even MORE important because there is a real possibility of injury if staff panic or hesitate. If there is no written plan and you must respond in the heat of the moment, you WILL panic and you will be more likely to hurt the child.


(logged-in user) March 2, 2010, 12:27pm (report abuse)

My son witnessed many acts of brutality against disabled students while in "special ed" class. All disabilities are labeled as "emotional disturbance." They do this in order to save money by having them all in the same class. The "school" is protected, because they say that they cannot give out personal information of students, so the y can deny an incident even happened.

The goal seems to be to indoctrinate the students into the juvenile justice system.

An actual example: A student writes with "kindergarten washable chalk" on a wall. The police are called and he is charged with felony vandalism and sent to juvenile hall, I kid you not.


(logged-in user) March 2, 2010, 12:27pm (report abuse)

Another great one is they have a place that the student's call the boarded up room. ADHD kids are locked in for sometimes the whole day. Even my autistic son could see that this is not a recommended treatment for that condition. Apparently they can get around the current law. Most of the time the parents believe their children are bad and don't question the actions of the school. Many of these kids are in foster care/group homes left to vegetate while administrators rake in big bucks don't help anyone.

I had to start a lawsuit to get my son out of that "school" and was told I was not allowed to talk about these things with anyone.

someone who is qualified to be a student teacher should get hired by one of these places and to do some kind of a 60 minutes-type expose and get some video. Then, I think many of the people that are against this bill, will see what is really going on.

Cathy Boyle

March 3, 2010, 2:14pm (report abuse)

As a parent of an 18 year old with both severe aggressive and self-injurious behaviors, I agree with the need for an INDIVIDUALIZED written plan. It specifies when, how and by whom my child can be restrained, as well as how to safely exit the restraint. If this bill is not fixed to permit written plans, it will increase the likelihood of my son being injured, and of him injuring others.

Desirae Wojtanowski

March 6, 2010, 8:18am (report abuse)

My son is High Functioning Autistic. He is not "BAD" and I am an EXCELLENT PARENT! Nor is my son Aggressive!! He is awesome academically, A's across the board. He was misunderstood by his school principle who was obviously has little to no training in Autistic children. And his sensory needs were not being met. His grades started to fall and his frustration levels went up. OUTBURSTS began! Then he was restrained and put in seclusion for 4 hours!! Not my son's fault and so totally out of his character! This law would protect this from happening to my son and kids like him. Because we lack such laws with in the school system it's NOT considered abuse and they are doing this to our kids and getting away with it. With the children with severe Autism and or behavioral problems, I get it's your responsibility to protect the other kids and yourself. So having it written in an IEP plan works. BUT NOT IN MY SON'S situation and other kids like him!!

Paul Crowther

March 15, 2010, 9:26pm (report abuse)

Sounds good on the surface, but would tend to make teachers hesitant to act in situations where they really should, as they worry whether they could prove it "might" lead to harm, etc.

Bob Bowen

March 26, 2010, 12:15am (report abuse)

I have worked with and for people affected by disabilities for 36 years, and have been to ER, had my nose broken and my shoulder separated, been bitten more times than I can remember, and I am in favor of this bill. It does not prohibit restraint and seclusion, it says that you can use restraint and seclusion in cases of imminent risk of harm. It does not say you cannot use restraint to keep people safe, but it does say you cannot use restraint unless there is a risk of harm that is going to happen now. For students who engage in self injurious behavior, restraint should not be in a behavior support plan, but it can, under this law, be in a safety response plan that can be used when the proactive strategies fail, and you must use proactive strategies first. This bill applies to schools the same standards that are present in residential treatment settings. Schools serve the same kids for 7 hours a day that residential programs have for 17, and this law applies the same standards.

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