S.2036 – Keeping All Students Safe Act

Sponsor: Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA)

Purpose: (1) to promote the development of effective intervention and prevention practices that do not use restraints and seclusion;

(2) to protect all students from physical or mental abuse, aversive behavioral interventions that compromise health and safety, and any restraint imposed for purposes of coercion, discipline or convenience, or as a substitute for appropriate educational or positive behavioral interventions and supports;

(3) to ensure that staff are safe from the harm that can occur from inexpertly using restraints; and

(4) to ensure the safety of all students and school personnel and promote positive school culture and climate.

Summary:  Prohibit the use of seclusion in locked, unattended rooms or enclosures. It would also prohibit the use of mechanical restraints (e.g., Velcro straps, belts, or duct tape), and physical restraints, when a staff member restrains the student with his or her body. The use of chemical restraints—the use of medications to subdue a student—are also prohibited under the bill. Any restraint that restricts breathing is prohibited, as are aversive behavioral interventions that compromise health and safety.

Status: 2/24/2014 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

AFSA Position: Student safety is always a top concern, and the training for school personnel could be very positive, but need to read the full legislation to see if the spirit of the bill gets lost in the text. Outright restrictions on the use of seclusion and restraint may not be the answer. Also funding could be a concern.