Washington, D.C.—Today, U.S. Senator, Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and U.S. Representatives Don Beyer (D-Va.), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), and Donald McEachin (D-Va.) reintroduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act, legislation to protect students from dangerous seclusion and restraint discipline practices in school.
The Keeping All Students Safe Act would make it illegal for any school receiving federal taxpayer money to seclude children and would ban dangerous restraint practices that restrict children’s breathing, such as prone or supine restraint. The bill would also prohibit schools from physically restraining children, except when necessary to protect the safety of students and staff. The bill would provide training for school personnel to address school-expected behavior with evidence-based, proactive strategies, require states to monitor the law’s implementation, and increase transparency and oversight to prevent future abuse of students.
The most current data from the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) reveals that 101,990 students were subjected to seclusion or restraint in the United States during the 2017-18 school year, 78 percent of whom were students with disabilities and disproportionately Black boys.
“It is absolutely appalling and completely unacceptable that in 2021, it is still legal for schools to lock students in rooms alone or forcibly restrain them in dangerous ways. And it is clear from the data that because of systemic ableism and racism, its students with disabilities, students of color, and boys who are suffering the most harm from these practices,” said Murray. “Every child deserves to be safe at school—so I’m proud to reintroduce the Keeping All Student Safe Act to finally protect students from these violent and dangerous discipline practices. Keeping kids safe shouldn’t be a partisan goal—so I urge all my colleagues to support this bill and protect our students.”
“The data tells us that seclusion and restraint practices in school are dangerous, ineffective and predominately used against kids of color and students with disabilities. These practices leave traumatic, and sometimes fatal, fingerprints on those affected, and we need to stop them,” said Murphy. “I’m proud to reintroduce legislation that makes it illegal for any school receiving federal taxpayer dollars to lock kids alone in rooms or restrain them in ways that are tantamount to abuse. This legislation also provides educators with the resources they need to implement safe, evidence-based, and trauma-informed alternatives to address disruptive behavior.”
“The practice of subjecting students to abusive discipline techniques happens far too often, and disproportionately affects Black children and students with disabilities. Many states have previously recognized the harm of seclusion and inappropriate restraint in the classroom and banned these practices. This is a national civil rights issue that needs a federal solution, and our bill would enact nationwide protections that students across the country deserve,” said Beyer. “The Keeping All Students Safe Act will protect students from harmful discipline by creating minimum safety standards for schools and by providing training and support to school personnel. Every student deserves to feel safe at their school, and our bill would help translate this important principle into law.”
“Every child should be safe and protected while in school. Sadly, that is not always the case. Despite evidence that seclusion and restraint practices make schools less safe, thousands of students are still subjected to these dangerous discipline methods. Students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately impacted by these harmful practices,” said Scott. “A quality education cannot be achieved without a safe learning environment. The Keeping All Students Safe Act would establish nationwide requirements and provide states and teachers the support they need to improve their schools’ culture by using evidence-based interventions.”
“We must end the abusive and inappropriate use of seclusion and restraint practices in our nation’s schools. Not only can these practices have long-lasting, traumatizing, and potentially life-threatening consequences, but they also disproportionately impact minority students and students with disabilities,” said McEachin. “Students, and their parents, deserve the assurance that they will be safe and protected while inside the classroom. The Keeping All Students Safe Act is a necessary step to end these harmful practices, provide school personnel with the right tools and resources to implement alternative strategies, and cultivate a safe educational environment for students.”
Joining Murphy and Murray, the Keeping All Students Safe Act is co-sponsored in the Senate by U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).
To read the Keeping All Students Safe Act bill text, click here.
To read the Keeping All Students Safe Act fact sheet, click here.
To read the Keeping All Students Safe Act section-by-section, click here.
This legislation is supported by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, SPAN Parent Advocacy Network, Autism Society of America, National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC), Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC), Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF), Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), CommunicationFIRST, Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA), National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), National Autism Association, Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR), National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), The Council for Learning Disabilities (CLD), CCD Education Task Force, American Bar Association, TASH, PDA North America, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), Center for Learner Equity, American Academy of Pediatrics, Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), National Parent Teacher Association (National PTA), Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network (AWN), National Parents Union, The Arc, Center for Disability Rights, Bazelon Center, Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint, Lives in the Balance, Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, Exposing Circle of Hope, Ukeru Systems, Higher Education Consortium for Special Education (HECSE), Maine Parent Federation, PATH CT, Parents’ Place of MD, Family Voices NJ, New Jersey Parents' Caucus, Virginia Coalition on Restraint and Seclusion, Virginia Association of Centers for Independent Living, The Arc of Virginia, The Arc of Northern Virginia, Disability Rights Florida, Disability Rights Center of Kansas, Disability Rights Oregon, Arizona Center for Disability Law, DisAbility Rights Idaho, Disability Law Center of Utah, Hawaii Disability Rights Center, Kentucky Protection and Advocacy.