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AK House Majority Caucus Press Release: House Sets Guidlines for Student Restraint & Seclusion

Millett’s HB 210 clarifies definition, actions schools must take

Monday, April 7, 2014, Juneau, Alaska – The Alaska House of Representatives today unanimously passed legislation clarifying what constitutes physical restraint, what conditions physical restraint and seclusion can be exercised and what actions are required of school personnel.   

Currently, there are no state or federal laws that regulate or restrict the use of seclusion or restraint in public or private schools. House Bill 210, by Representative Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage, fixes that by putting in place policies and requirements for the use restraint or seclusion.

“This bill builds on the work many school districts in Alaska are already doing, such as the Anchorage, Mat-Su, Juneau, Kenai Peninsula, Fairbanks North Star, North Slope, and Annette Island School Districts,” Millett said. “HB 210 protects students from trauma, keeps parents informed and supports teachers and school personnel tasked with difficult decisions.

“We heard from mothers and fathers who were not told that their children were traumatized through improper restraint and seclusion,” Millett said. “As a mother, knowing what happens to your children is a fundamental right. I am pleased the House supported the provision on required notification, and thrilled that the bill passed the House 40-0.”

Under HB 210, school personnel would only be allowed to restrain or seclude a child if the child posed an imminent harm to themselves or others. Staff who restrain or seclude a child need to be trained in proper techniques. There is a condition for rare and unavoidable circumstances that untrained staff can restrain or seclude. Additionally, parents or legal guardians must be notified the same day that a child is restrained or secluded. “We heard from school districts that having trained staff that focused on de-escalation and positive behavior traits significantly reduced the instances of restraint and seclusion,” Millett said.

After a child has been secluded or restrained, schools are required to have a follow-up meeting to figure out what led to the incident. The report from the follow-up then must be given to the parents or legal guardians.

Schools would need to submit an annual report to the Department of Education and Early Development with the total number of restraints and seclusions in that year. The report would also account for multiple instances with the same child.

HB 210 now moves to the Alaska Senate for consideration.

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