A group of lawmakers led by Sen. Bernie Sanders reintroduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act in Congress on Thursday. This proposal aims to ban schools from isolating students in locked rooms and using certain physical restraints.
Despite previous iterations failing to pass since its first introduction in 2009, the proposal has gathered momentum and support from diverse groups, including disability rights advocates, parents groups such as the National PTA, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. The Act’s proponents cited a Hearst Newspapers investigation that reported schools frequently resort to restraining and secluding special education students, occasionally resulting in serious injury or death.
The proposed bill mandates that federally funded schools can only use restraints when necessary for ensuring safety and strictly forbids practices that limit students’ breathing. Also included are provisions for training to foster proactive, evidence-based strategies for managing school behavior.
Although 14 Senate Democrats support the bill, it currently lacks Republican endorsement. The legislation has sparked debate among educators, with some arguing that these interventions are essential for managing challenging disabilities, and others claiming that existing state laws are sufficient. The National Education Association remains neutral, while the American Federation of Teachers expressed support without formally endorsing the bill. Despite resistance from the American Association of School Administrators, proponents argue federal legislation is necessary due to the vast differences in state laws and inadequate oversight.
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