Major Step Forward in Improving Safety of Children in Schools with Legislation to Restrict the Use of Restraints and Seclusion

February 12, 2014

Andrew J. Imparato, JD
Executive Director

Kim E. Musheno
Director of Public Policy

AUCD applauds Senator Tom Harkin who announced that he will introduce legislation today to reduce the use of restraints and seclusion in schools. Representative George Miller (D-CA) introduced a similar bill by the same name last July.

There is an urgent need for Federal protection, 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.

"School personnel need training in the use of evidence-based techniques in crisis reduction and de-escalation and the use of Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports," stated Dan Crimmins, PhD, Director of the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University (a Georgia UCEDD), who testified at a Senate hearing on the issue in 2012. "Research by many of our University Centers has shown Positive Behavioral Supports as an effective intervention for children with disruptive or challenging behaviors across a broad age range and spectrum of behaviors."

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, MA, 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 reviewing the bill and working with the House and Senate to do whatever it takes to move this long-overdue legislation quickly through Congress.



About AUCD

The Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) is a membership organization that supports and promotes a national network of university-based interdisciplinary programs. Through its members, AUCD is a resource for local, state, national, and international agencies, organizations, and policy makers concerned about people living with developmental and other disabilities and their families. AUCD Network members consist of 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), 43 Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Programs, and 15 Intellectual and Developmental Disability Research Centers (IDDRC). For more information and directory of University Centers, see