The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Restraint Bill Updates

AM 1750 to LB 147: The Restraint Bill

Update

LB 147 is out of Committee due to the Pull Motion now it is headed to General File and we need you to raise your voice to oppose this bill still!  Your calls made a difference and are the reason why he only barely made it through.

 

Senator Groene has been attempting to pull LB 147 the Restraint Bill out of committee through any method possible.  We have been able to stop him from getting it out of committee through the regular process!  However, now he has called for a Pull Motion that means that he can skip the committee process and bring it straight to the floor if he can get 25 votes on Tuesday, May 21 at 1:30 pm. The conversation will hopefully now revolve around AM 1750 an amendment that we worked on that helps to improve the bill.  However, even with this amendment, not enough of our concerns are alleviated.  As a parent said, “I would be scared to send my child to school if this law passed.”  We represent people with disabilities and their families and will stand up for their safety.

 

Good

Clarifies Definitions- Adds necessary clarification that this is for “imminent physical injury” This ensures that the threat of physical harm is actually about to happen.  While the example that supporters of this bill have used is “What if a kid is about to hit another kid?  We want a teacher to be able to stop that right?” The language of the bill and previously drafted amendments do NOT actually clarify that properly.  Section 4 (1)

Limit Time of Use- One of the concerns around this bill is ensuring that physical restraint is used only for limited time periods.  This amendment does help with this. Section 4 (2)

Preventing Prone, Pain Inducing, and Mechanical Restraints- This amendment helps to set better definitions that limit Prone (on the ground restraint that can restrict breathing), pain causing, and mechanical restraints Section 4 (2) (a,b,c)

Sets limited training requirements and standards- This bill does set a requirement that a school district develops training and policies.  However, this could be 1 hour of training in your career.  Standards for disability service providers are much higher because this is a dangerous activity and requires serious training.  Section 4 (3)

Sets barebones reporting requirements- This requires that schools report to parent or guardian the use of this physical force. Although this does not include any sort of tracking, ensuring that the school is taking actions to de-escalate in the future.  It also doesn’t require a report of how physical force was used. Section 4 (5) (a)

Changing Terminology- We believe words matter.  The bill removes “physical restraint” and takes steps in the right direction.  However, it ultimately has not gone far enough, and a positive effort ends up instead just disguising terminology. Proponents may say it is now the “Classroom Safety Bill” but real classroom safety means more manageable class sizes, proper training, and mental health supports.

 

Bad

Not Enough Training- To properly implement this bill, proper mandatory training has always been needed.  However, that training takes time and is expensive.  If Senator Groene wants to pass this, then he needs to adequately fund this bill.  Avoiding a fiscal note is helpful if you want to pass something but not if you're going to make good policy.

IGNORES IEP and 504 Plans- Proponents have said that this bill does not affect students with disabilities.  This is simply not true.  The language to account for Federal IDEA requirements, IEP, and 504 Plans is in Section 5, which means that it will not affect Section 4 the restraint section.

Does Not Focus on De-escalation- Physical Restraint should always be an absolute last resort.  This bill does not require or even encourage de-escalation tactics that are prioritized in proper training.  This continues the negative power dynamic this bill encourages

 

Ugly

Lack of Process- This flies in the face of the Legislative process by ignoring the fact that it has failed to get through the Education process.  The committee he is the chair of.  On a bill, he is the sponsor of.  Then he made LB 147 the committee priority bill despite the committee obviously not agreeing.  This is a disappointing lack of working within the process as Senator Groene has claimed on the floor he believes is important.

Overwhelming Contrary Research and Citizen Testimony- The overwhelming mountain of research that talks about the use of restraint can be harmful.  This along with the hours of opposed testimony at the hearing.  In comparison, there was only one supportive testimony. http://bit.ly/2Ec6TsZ

Lack of Tracking- Every instance in which restraint or seclusion is used should be carefully and continuously and visually monitored to ensure the appropriateness of its use and safety of the child, other children, teachers, and other personnel.

Eliminates Local Control- Many local school districts have better thought through policies on restraint.  This could eliminate some of those protections.

Sets Varying Standards Between Departments- DHHS has set requirements regarding the use of restraint in children’s services.  To have one set in DHHS and another in schools is problematic to say the least.  391 NAC 1-006.13E http://bit.ly/2YFX66h

This targets kids with disabilities- According to the Civil Rights Data Collection: Data Snapshot (School Discipline) “Students with disabilities (served by IDEA) represent 12% of the student population [of U.S. schools], but 58% of those placed in seclusion or involuntary confinement.” Nebraska students served by IDEA represent 15% of the total enrollment but 77% of those who were physically restrained.

 

  If you want more information on this bill, please watch out discussion on restraint with one of our board members https://www.arc-nebraska.org/restraint_policy

 

While we appreciate that the amendment does have some improvements ultimately, this is not enough.  This bill needs to be worked diligently with stakeholders, take into account quality research, and we need to see the data from Senator Waynes LB 495 before proceeding. Senators should instead focus on continuing to find a serious solution to property taxes that adequately considers Special Education Funding.

 


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