Pharos-Tribune

State News

September 12, 2012

Push is on for limiting schools’ use of physical restraints

INDIANAPOLIS — Advocates and parents of children with special needs want the Indiana Legislature to require schools to have clear guidelines on when to use physical restraints and isolation rooms to discipline students.

The push for the legislation follows a report released by the U.S. Department of Education earlier this year that found tens of thousands of students across the U.S. — most of whom are disabled — have been strapped down, physically restrained, or locked into isolation rooms by teachers or school staff to keep order in their classrooms. In some cases, the techniques have led to injury and death.

Members of a state legislative study committee heard testimony Wednesday about documented incidents involving students with autism or other disabilities who’ve been duct-taped to chairs, locked in dark rooms, stuffed into filing cabinets, or subject to other punitive measures using physical, mechanical and even “chemical” restraints.

But the frequency of these incidents in Indiana schools is unknown since there are no reporting requirements nor statewide standards for what seclusion and restraint techniques are appropriate or when they can be used.

“Indiana remains one of 19 states without any rules or regulations governing this type of activity,” said state Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, who thinks schools need better guidance and more training on how to discipline students with behavioral problems.

Any proposed legislation on the use of restraints and isolation rooms is likely to cover all students — not just those with physical, emotional or mental disabilities.

“We need to be concerned about the safety of all students,” said state Rep. Bob Heaton, R-Terre Haute, chairman of the legislative Committee on Autism, which has taken up the issue.

Currently, the Indiana Department of Education encourages local school corporations to develop their own policies on the use of restraints and isolation techniques. But there is no requirement to do so, leaving the state with a patchwork of policies and practices.

Kim Dodson, an advocate for the disabled and  associate executive director for The Arc of Indiana, said the patchwork approach is no longer working.

“We have statutes (covering the use of restraints and isolation) that protect people living in long-term care facilities and people in our state prisons and even kids in juvenile justice centers,” Dodson said. “But nothing in statute for our students in schools.”

Joan McCormick of the Indiana Council of Administrators of Special Education spoke out against a state law that would set statewide standards.

McCormick acknowledged there had been incidents of abuse involving restraints and isolation rooms and she called for better training of teachers. But she said local school corporations should be allowed to determine their own policies with oversight from their local school boards.

Dodson and others are convinced the state needs to step in. They’re concerned that the increasing demands placed on schools and teachers — including educating  more students with special needs — has led to a greater use of restraint and isolation techniques as a first resort for discipline rather than a last resort.

Dodson favors legislation that would  require every school corporation to have a policy on the use of isolation and restraint techniques and would require schools to notify parents when those techniques are used. She also wants the legislation to require more training for teachers and administrators.

The issue is of particular importance to parents of students with special needs. The U.S. Department of Education study released earlier this year found that about 70 percent of the nearly 40,000 students who were restrained or isolated in seclusion rooms during the 2009-10 school year had learning, behavioral, physical or developmental needs. The study also found that African-American and Hispanic students were also disproportionately isolated or restrained.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
State News
  • Complaint ends teacher prayer in western Indiana school district TERRE HAUTE (AP) — A western Indiana school district is telling teachers and other employees they can't lead prayers during school-sponsored event. The decision by the Vigo County School Corp. in Terre Haute follows a complaint made to the Freedom fr

    July 23, 2014

  • Lawmakers approve pair of new license plates INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A panel of state lawmakers approved new license plates recognizing the Indy 500 and Abraham Lincoln under a new system clamping down on the number of special license plates on the road. Members of the Legislature's transportation

    July 23, 2014

  • Indiana Veterans Hall of Fame seeks nominations INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A new hall of fame for Indiana military veterans is seeking nominations for its first class of inductees. The Indiana Military Veterans Hall of Fame says it expects to induct the first honorees around Veterans Day at Fort Benjamin

    July 23, 2014

  • Gay couples' lawyers object to full-court hearing INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Attorneys on either side of a lawsuit over Indiana’s overthrown gay marriage ban are wrangling over how many federal judges should hear the state’s appeal, a technical issue that could make a big difference.Those representing gay

    July 23, 2014

  • NWS - KT072214 - Ryan Ledbetter mugshot - CLG [Duplicate] Bunker Hill councilman arrested for firing gun BUNKER HILL – A member of the Bunker Hill Town Council was arrested Saturday after police say he broke a no-contact order with his children’s mother and fired a gun inside a trailer park near Peru. Indiana State Police responded to the Woodland Hill

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lowe's plans 1,000-worker Indianapolis call center INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Home-improvement retailer Lowe's says it will open a new call center in Indianapolis that could have up to 1,000 employees in the next couple years. The North Carolina-based retailer announced Tuesday that it would spend about $20

    July 22, 2014

  • 2 men die in separate apparent drownings near Rockville and Morocco ROCKVILLE, Ind. (AP) — State conservation officers say two Indiana men have died in separate apparent drownings. Officers say 29-year-old Terry Johnson of Veedersburg died after divers pulled him Monday from Raccoon Lake near the Parke County town of

    July 22, 2014

  • Former Hartford City councilman sentenced for child molesting HARTFORD CITY (AP) — A former northeastern Indiana city councilman and retired teacher has been sentenced to 10 years in prison on child molesting charges. A Blackford County judge ordered the sentence on Monday against 66-year-old John Adams. He ple

    July 22, 2014

  • 6 Indiana projects get national humanities grants INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Three universities in Indiana have been awarded a total of $1.25 million in grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The endowment announced Monday that Indiana University's Indianapolis branch campus is receiving $1

    July 22, 2014

  • Indiana governor's residence gets honey bee hive INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana's Governor's Residence is getting a bee hive to call its own. First lady Karen Pence was scheduled to unveil a honey bee hive Tuesday morning at the Governor's Residence on Indianapolis' north side. The hive and its bees w

    July 22, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

The Pence administration continues to cut Indiana agency budgets despite a state surplus of $2 billion. Is this wise management of state funds?

Yes
No
Not sure
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Bodies of Malaysia Jet Victims Leave Ukraine Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel Clinton: "AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach" Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.