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Oregon House Passes Bill Limiting the Use of Restraints on Students
By Kimberly Melton, The Oregonian, Portland, Ore. (MCT)
The Oregon House unanimously approved a bill banning the use of certain restraints on students.
Disability rights advocates estimate there are as many as 10,000 instances of student seclusion or restraint in Oregon each year. In these instances, students could be locked in a room, physically restrained by staff or controlled with handcuffs or rope.
House Bill 2939 limits the types of techniques that school staff can use to physically control misbehaving students. The Oregon House today approved the bill without debate.
Rep. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, sponsor of the bill, said Oregon school kids are "repeatedly restrained and secluded in a misguided attempt to manage behavior. This is happening in our state even though research proves restraints and seclusion are counterproductive and exacerbate the behavior they purport to address."
This bill would put into state law some of the currently unenforceable rules already established by the Oregon Department of Education. The bill requires districts to develop policies to govern how staff manage students and to notify parents if a child is restrained or secluded and for how long. School staff would also be required to invite parents to the debriefing meeting following the incident.
Earlier in the session, parents came down to Salem to testify before the House Education committee on their personal experiences with seclusion and restraint. Many said they did not learn of the incidents until weeks or months after they took place.
Currently, fewer than 20 percent of Oregon districts track and review the use of seclusion and restraint on students. This bill would require every district create an annual report and make it available to the public.
A requirement to submit the report to the department of education was taken out of the bill as was a provision that allowed parents who feel a school is not following the law to file complaints directly to the state superintendent of schools.
The bill now heads to the Oregon Senate.