Harkin Legislation Will Limit Harmful Practices toward Students with Disabilities

Senator Harkin Draws Attention to Problem of Restraint and Seclusion in Schools and Introduces Bill to Limit Use

February 12, 2014


pdf File Crimmins RS Senate Testimony2012.pdf (450KB) [download]

pdf File AUCD Letter to Harkin Keeping Students Safe.pdf (229KB) [download]

pdf File Senate restraint legislation release-02-12-2014.pdf (83KB) [download]

Update: Senate bill has been introduced! Read more

AUCD applauds Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, who announced that he will introduce legislation to reduce the use of restraints and seclusion in schools. Representative George Miller (D-CA) introduced a similar bill (H.R. 1893) by the same name last July.

There is an urgent need for federal protection, including an allocation of resources and assistance to States to develop plans to reduce the use of these dangerous techniques. Currently, no federal guidelines exist regarding the use of restraints and seclusion. Risk of injury and harm is significantly increased when seclusion and restraints are implemented by staff who are not sufficiently trained.

 "Through the use of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, de-escalation techniques, conflict management, and other positive strategies, the use of dangerous and dehumanizing restraint and seclusion techniques can be virtually eliminated," stated Daniel Crimmins, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University (Georgia UCEDD), who testified at a Senate hearing on the issue in 2012.  "Research by many of our University Centers has shown that school personnel need training in these positive strategies, which are much more effective at guiding behavior while also maintaining a safe and supportive educational environment"

Evidence shows a disproportionate use of these techniques on students with disabilities, violating their right to nondiscrimination in accessing education. A majority of problem behaviors that are used to justify seclusion and restraint could be prevented with early identification and intensive early intervention. The need for seclusion and restraint procedures is, in part, a result of insufficient investment in prevention efforts.

Robert Bacon, Director of the Iowa University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, stated, "The disability community in Iowa, as well as nationwide, is grateful for Senator Harkin's continuing leadership on issues critical to the wellbeing of children in our schools, especially those children receiving special education. He truly recognizes the importance of evidence-based practices in schools for children with disabilities."

AUCD looks forward to working with the House and Senate to do whatever it takes to move this long-overdue legislation quickly through Congress.


Take Action:

Show Your Support for Safe Schools! Ask your Senators to support the Keeping All Students Safe Act.

Join the conversation on Twitter using #KeepingStudentsSafe and #StopHurtingKids


Learn More:

Read the Senate bill

Read the House bill introduced by Rep. George Miller

HELP Committe Report Dangerous Use of Seclusion and Restraints in Schools Remians Widespread and Difficult to Remedy: A Review of Ten Cases

AUCD Restraint & Seclusion Policy Page, including House companion bill

AUCD Full Press Release 

Testimony of Dr. Daniel Crimmis  before the Senate HELP Committee in June of 2012

AUCD Thanks Senator Harkin for Introducing Keeping All Students Safe Act

Fact Sheet on current and limited state-level protections