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Harkin Welcomes Administration Directions to Help Reduce Seclusion and Restraint

WASHINGTON—Today, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, released the following statement in response to the announcement by Education Secretary Arne Duncan of a new resource document aimed at reducing the use of seclusion and restraint practices in schools:

“I am pleased that Secretary Duncan has affirmed today that the use of seclusion and restraint to discipline students is dangerous and outmoded,” Harkin said. “I share Secretary Duncan’s belief that we need to ensure teachers and school leaders have the knowledge, skills and resources to prevent disruptive behaviors and support all students in our schools, rather than relying on dangerous practices to discipline or instruct their students.  In the past, these practices have led to injury and even death for many American children, an unacceptable outcome that disproportionately impacts students with disabilities.”

The resource document issued by the Department of Education outlines fifteen principles to reduce the use of restraint and seclusion, and describes how schools can work toward reducing the use of restraint and seclusion and ensuring that parents are partners in the process of supporting their children’s education, including children with significant social, emotional, and behavioral disabilities.  The resource document the Secretary released parallels many of the provisions in S. 2020, the bill Senator Harkin introduced in December 2011 to prohibit seclusion and certain types of restraints and provide teachers and school leaders with information about preventative practices to improve learning for all students.