On November 17th, 2022, Representative Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) introduced a Resolution on “Recognizing the harm associated with restraints in schools,” which was referred to both the Education and Labor and Judiciary Committees.
Restraint and seclusion, which are legal in most districts nationwide, are commonly used when students – particularly those with disabilities – are in distress, engaging in self-harm or acting in ways that could cause injury to themselves or others. The use of seclusion and restraint in schools is controversial, with increasing evidence that the practice can be dangerous, even fatal. The Department of Education found that the use of restraints has not been shown to alter behavior.
An investigative article published by CT Insider records stories of children and families that have been traumatized by restraint and seclusion, noting that untrained professionals routinely use restraints despite methods of de-escalation yielding better results. “These practices are used thousands of times per school day nationwide. They cause thousands of injuries to students and staff members each year.”
The Resolution, which has 10 Democratic cosponsors, details the dangers and negative outcomes that can come from the use of restraints in schools, including the findings of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that noted 20 deaths of students from improper use of restraints since 2009. It then resolves that the House of Representatives:
(1) recognizes the harm associated with restraints in schools;
(2) encourages local and State governments to implement rules, legislation, and trainings to prohibit the use of physical restraints on young children in schools in order to create a safer learning environment and increase transparency between schools and families; and
(3) acknowledges the secondary stress injuries of educators, education support professionals, administrators, school resource officers, and law enforcement officers across the United States and moves toward substantial change through open and frequent policy discussion.