S 1163 A 501
“Establishes certain requirements for the use of restraint and seclusion on students with disabilities in school districts and approved private schools.”
NJEA opposes S-1163 (Sweeney) / A-501 (Russo, Burzichelli, Zwicker, McKnight). This legislation is designed to create requirements for the use of restraint and seclusion on students with disabilities in school districts and approved private schools for students with disabilities. The bill also requires the Department of Education to collect and report data regarding restraint and seclusion.
NJEA believes that all students, regardless of their specific needs, should be treated with dignity and respect in a safe and educationally appropriate school environment. While we recognize that the sponsors of this legislation are trying to safeguard students and educators with clear procedures on the use of seclusion and restraint, S-1163 / A-501 is problematic because:
- The terms ‘seclusion technique’ and ‘timeout’ are clearly defined; however, physical restraint is not. The bill simply states that students may not be restrained in the prone position unless the student’s primary care physician authorizes this type of restraint. It leaves this open to interpretation.
- Who is responsible for determining an “emergency situation” where physical restraint or seclusion may be used?
- Seclusion completely removes the student from the school environment and is punitive. Students should never be held against their will.
- The legislation calls for the continuous monitoring of a student when that student is being physically restrained or placed in seclusion. Who is doing that monitoring – – particularly if this is happening during an ‘emergency’ situation?
- S-1163 / A-501 calls for a school district or private school to attempt to minimize the use of physical restraints through the development and implementation of individualized, comprehensive, positive behavior intervention plans. NJEA strongly believes that this legislation should emphasize the need for districts to create school environments and programs in which the techniques of seclusion and restraint would not be needed.
- There should be more emphasis on how to de-escalate a situation for students.
- The Individual Education Plan (IEP) team should be the team responsible for deciding the behavior plan and classroom supports needed for students – – not a review team consisting of educational, clinical, and administrative personnel.
- The review process team should also not be revising a staff member’s professional development plan – that is done with the staff member’s administrator.
NJEA believes that all students should have the opportunity to learn in a safe, compassionate, and developmentally appropriate environment. It is critical that administrators, educators, and parents to work together to create schools where there are processes in place that will allow for more layers of de-escalation strategies and less seclusion and restraint practices.
NJEA asks you to OPPOSE S-1163 / A-501.