Pharos-Tribune

Breaking News

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
  • NWS-PT040714 Hogsett mug.jpg The job? Guarding public trust INDIANAPOLIS -- Joe Hogsett was being vetted for the job of U.S. Attorney four years ago when he asked a federal judge for advice. That judge observed that there hadn't been a high-profile public corruption case in the southern district of Indiana s

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Flood Insurance Indiana [Duplicate] Indiana braces for flood insurance subsidy changes INDIANAPOLIS -- Thousands of Indiana homeowners who live in flood-prone neighborhoods are bracing for insurance premium increases, despite Congress' latest fix for the government's debt-saddled flood insurance program. More than 13,300 Indiana homeow

    March 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • NWS-PT031714 Wolkins mug.jpg Zooming through: Rules on mo-peds headed to governor's desk INDIANAPOLIS -- Rep. Dave Wolkins could only oppose mo-ped regulations for so long, as more bikes zipped along the roads and were involved in an increasing number of accidents. So Wolkins -- who spent five years fighting to keep Indiana among the few

    March 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Prison inmates part of new Legion post TERRE HAUTE -- Wearing khaki-colored matching uniforms, more than 20 veterans inside a maximum-security prison stood tall to salute the flag of the United States at an event that welcomed them as new American Legion members. These men, inmates at the

    March 17, 2014

  • NWS-PT031414 beer alcohol.jpg Old ban on beer booze level may be tapped out INDIANAPOLIS -- Loughmiller's Pub across from the Statehouse is a favorite hangout for legislators and lobbyists who like the tavern's menu of gourmet burgers and craft beers. State police are regular lunch customers, as are state officials who regul

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Indiana House leader: Tax, preschool deals near INDIANAPOLIS -- Republican leaders working on a series of last-minute compromises on top-tier issues of tax cuts, preschool and road funding announced Tuesday they were close to final agreements. "I say agreement in principle because we still have to

    March 12, 2014

  • Same-sex couples sue state over ban LOUISVILLE -- Erin Brock says she's prepared to fight to have her love legally recognized by the state of Indiana. Brock and her fiancé Melissa Love share a home and children in Jeffersonville and are one of four same-sex couples from Southern Indian

    March 10, 2014

  • Ivy Tech's $83M wish list meets skeptical audience INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Ivy Tech Community College says it needs $83 million more from the state so it can double its enrollment and graduation rates and help the state meet its own goal of increasing the number of Indiana residents with post-high-schoo

    March 9, 2014

  • Bill ends automatic license suspensions for many crimes INDIANAPOLIS -- Unpaid parking fines, falling behind on child support, drunken driving: So many offenses trigger a suspended driver's license in Indiana that more than a half-million Hoosiers have lost their driving privileges. In fact, driving on a

    March 7, 2014

  • NWS-PT030314 Zionsville bus.jpg Rolling billboards: Legislation may create pilot program INDIANAPOLIS — Cash hungry schools may start selling ads on the sides of buses to make up millions of dollars lost because of property tax caps. Legislation moving through the General Assembly would create a pilot program allowing a few districts to

    March 3, 2014 1 Photo

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

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

Should e-cigarette marketing be regulated like tobacco?

Yes
No
Unsure
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez Dead at 87 Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
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.