Washington, DC Late last week, Secretary Duncan sent a letter to Chief State School Officers encouraging each state to review their current policies and guidelines regarding the use of restraints and seclusion techniques in schools and if appropriate develop or revise them to ensure the safety of students.
“We are urging every state to take a close look at their restraint and seclusion guidelines to ensure that children’s safety is made the number one priority,” said Duncan. “It is my sincerest hope that this process will shed light on situations where policies need to be altered and provide the public with a clear understanding of the guidelines being used.”
In the letter, the Secretary urged states to work with the Department of Education to publicly share their efforts in order to increase awareness and transparency, to disseminate best practices, and to provide state resources for appropriate implementation and to hold school districts accountable for adhering to guidelines. The letter notes that the Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, a center funded by the Department, is ready to provide technical assistance, and that staff from regional Comprehensive Centers will be contacting states to discuss the status of each state’s efforts in this area.
“Children should not be abused in our classrooms under the guise of discipline or punishment,” said U.S. Rep. George Miller, chair of the House Education and Labor Committee. “Secretary Duncan is taking a critical first step to ensure our children are safe and protected while at school and I intend to do everything I can to support him in these efforts.”
Duncan decided to issue the letter following the release of a GAO Report on May 19 that uncovered allegations of abuse and potentially deadly misapplication of seclusion and restraint techniques in schools, and a subsequent committee hearing conducted on the issue at the request of the committee’s chairman, U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA).