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November 29, 2011

Why Our Children Can’t Wait……Congress, Keep Our Children Safe

Related: APRAIS Seeks Passage of Long Awaited Legislation on Restraint & Seclusion

The end of the year always offers a time for individuals to reflect on the previous year and prepare for the next year.  As Congress wraps up the 2011 legislative schedule, we want to call their attention to the thousands of children who have continued to be subjected to acts of seclusion and restraint in schools.  Help us educate Congress and encourage them to take swift action in the 112th Congress to address this epidemic and keep our children safe while they are in school.

What You Can Do to Carry This Message Forward

The harmful use of restraint and seclusion is a pervasive, nationwide problem.  Federal legislation is essential to provide children in all states equal protection from these dangerous techniques and create a cultural shift toward preventive, positive intervention strategies.  Teachers need the knowledge, training, tools and support to protect themselves and their students by preventing problem behaviors and maintaining a positive and healthy educational environment. Federal action restricting the use of restraint and seclusion is critical to assure the safety of all children in our nation’s schools.  Please take a moment to convey this message to your Congressional leaders in the following ways:

1) For the U.S. House of Representatives: Urge your Member of Congress to cosponsor the Keeping All Students Safe Act (H.R. 1381).  If your Member of Congress is on the House Education & Workforce Committee, request that they weigh in with the Committee leadership urging Congressional action to decrease the use of seclusion and restraints in schools in this Congress.

2) For the U.S. Senate: Urge your two Senators to co-sponsor the Keeping All Students Safe Act (S. 2020)

Communication Options

There are a Number of Ways YOU Can Convey Your Message:

By Phone: Simply call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Member of Congress or Senator.  Then ask to speak with the legislative aide who handles education policy issues.  See attached Advocacy Tool #2 Call Script for more recommendations.

By E-mail: Go online to find the personal website of your Congressional leaders and then submit your letter via email.  You may also call the offices in advance and ask for the email address of the legislative staff member handling education issues and email your letter to them directly. Please see attached letter templates in Advocacy Tool #3.

In Person Back at Home: You can reach out to your Member of Congress (MOC) or Senator via their local offices back home and ask to schedule a meeting with appropriate staff who can help communicate and convey your concerns and requests to the MOC or Senator directly.  You can also find out what upcoming local events are occurring (such as town hall meetings, constituent coffees, etc.) that would also afford you an opportunity to publicly ask a question or share your perspectives on seclusion and restraint.

Tools for Advocates

To assist you in this effort, we have included a number of tools to help you communicate effectively with your Congressional leaders.  These tools include

- Legislative History re: Seclusion & Restraint

- Call Script

- Draft E-mail Letter for House

- Draft E-mail Letter for Senate

Additionally, the following Internet resources may be of interest to you –

APRAIS Website:   www.tash.org/aprais

Summary of the Keeping All Students Safe (H.R.1381):  http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d112:1:./temp/~bdYeYP:@@@P|/home/LegislativeData.php|

Membership of the House Education & Workforce Committee:  http://edworkforce.house.gov/Committee/SubcommitteesJurisdictions.htm

Membership of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP):  http://www.help.senate.gov/

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5 Responses to “Why Our Children Can’t Wait……Congress, Keep Our Children Safe”

  1. Christine Perry says:

    I have a 7 yr old autistic boy who is relatively normal besides for the social awkwardness. He is wonderful at home. However something happens at school, they get upset with him, he starts screaming, they put him in a time out room with cement walls and hold the door closed on him. Everyone knows that autistic kids tend to injure themselves. This behavior diminished at home years ago, however he is in a constant regression state at school. He was suspended again yesterday, Cops have been called on him, it is getting out of control. His special education teachers went to a different school this year. He has mostly untrained individuals put in charge of his care. I do not know what to do.

  2. Robert says:

    Get the attention of the program specialist assigned to the program he is enrolled in and voice your concerns. Make sure that they understand that you know the legalities of restraint and seclusion. I hate to say this but sometimes using the L word (Litigation against the district) gets people to start paying attention. In my opinion, what is happening to your son is against the law. It sounds like the teaching staff, both special ed and general ed, are untrained to work with your son. If you fear for the well being of your son and nothing changes you may need to push for a new program (along the lines of a special day class or autism inclusion class) or change to a new district. I am sorry to hear about whats happening with your child.

  3. Rose Walker says:

    I believe in your message and believe that enough is enough…my son has restainted and place in what they call the safe room for over two years..The first time they did it I was wondering why he felt so out of sort that evening…I believe they took our two years of work and threw it down the drain .. From that moment on the battle with the school began…I reached out for help..and got just misery…The first excuse i got is that this is their methology a way to de- escolate a 5 year old.. yeah right .I call the disabily right people and they told me the best thing i could do was start by sending my son back to school and find away to get along with them, after poor service and not getting proper meds javon behaviors worsten and the school contantly being restraind and seclusion ,
    ,After this year when the principle said why don,t you give me 3 days of using the time out room and you will see his behavioral improve. I ask for a meeting and keepd Javon out of school (for his safety) and after a lengthy meeting and telling them that even my doctors feel that using restrainst/seclusion to address schould not happen and he would help them putting a plan in place They never contacted them at all… and refused to not continued to place him seclusion and restrained him even without my knowledge… Right now we are in a thieriputic placement in a different school 3 therpist in 2 months ,no structure and I still can,t seem to get any where…I have explained over and over again that javon has serious issues when he is forced to preform out side his comfort zone,but he has clear sign of a impending melt down and the insist on pushing his buttons and wonder why he is upset…then them using it as reasons to restrain him.. He has had 17 differnt placements in the last year and hafe . I just called another meeting and think i will just pull him out and be over it

  4. Lynn says:

    I am still learning about this issue, and I am understanding more as you are sharing this with us. I find that the personal experiences you have had are very moving and I believe that you will find a way that would be best suited for your child. I hope the best outcome for you. And, I hope that our future teachers will be better trained and improved in their skills when working with children with special needs.

  5. Eva says:

    I am sorry to hear about these situations. It is sad that this is still continuing. There is a such a need for better trained personnel. I am a special education teacher for students with moderate to severe needs. I use a sensory room for my students. They are not forced to use it but it provides a place for them to get their sensory needs met. They can earn it using a token economy system too. There is so much more that can be done. Our special education director has a saying about special education, “Don’t talk to me about inclusion. Don’t talk to me about a separate class. Talk to me about what is best for that student. My hope for both of you is to find a solution that is best suited for the child .

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