Skip to content

Top Democrats Unveil Bill to Protect Students from Dangerous Seclusion and Restraint Practices

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, top Democrats in both the House and the Senate introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act to protect students from dangerous seclusion and restraint discipline practices in school. The bill is sponsored by Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA),  Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Congressman Don Beyer (VA-08), and Congressman Donald McEachin (VA-04).


Every child should be safe and protected while in school. Sadly, that is not always the case. The most current data from the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) reveals that 101,990 students were subjected to seclusion or restraint during the 2017-18 school year. Of the students restrained or secluded, 78 percent were students with disabilities who were disproportionately students who identified as Black/African American and boys.


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 students and staff.  The bill would better equip school personnel with the training they need 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. 


“Every student deserves to be safe at school. But shockingly, schools are still allowed to punish students by locking them in rooms or forcibly restraining them in dangerous ways—and students with disabilities and students of color face the most harm. This is completely unacceptable,” said Senator Patty Murray. “The Keeping All Students Safe Act will ban these harmful tactics of seclusion and dangerous restraint and limit physical restraint, making our schools safer and more supportive environments for all children—no matter their race or disability. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this important legislation and I’ll continue working to address the many educational inequities that keep so many students from receiving a high-quality education.”


“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. Our bill would enact nationwide protections that students across the country deserve,” said Congressman Don 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.”


“Far too many students, particularly those with disabilities and kids of color, are subject to inhumane seclusion and restraint practices that have harmful effects on their learning and experience in the classroom - often with traumatic and sometimes fatal consequences. My colleagues and I are introducing legislation to fix this problem. No taxpayer-funded school in America should lock kids up alone in rooms or restrain them with abusive methods,” said Senator Chris Murphy. “The Keeping All Students Safe Act would establish strong federal standards to keep students safe, while providing school staff with alternatives to address disruptive behavior with evidence-based, trauma-informed, proactive strategies and the resources to put those alternatives into practice.”


“Despite evidence that seclusion and restraint practices make schools less safe, thousands of students are still subjected to these disproven methods of discipline. What’s more, students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately impacted by these harmful practices. It’s time we recognize that a quality education cannot be achieved without a safe learning environment,” said Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott. “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 only evidence-based interventions.”


“For far too long, our nation’s students, particularly students of color and students with disabilities, have been subjected to inappropriate and abusive seclusion and restraint in the classroom,” said Congressman Donald McEachin. “Not only are these dangerous policies ineffective at addressing student behavior, but they can also cause significant emotional and physical trauma. We must protect our students from these abusive techniques, and the Keeping All Students Safe Act will put in place the standards and restrictions necessary to ensure our children’s health and safety. Every child deserves to grow and prosper in a high-quality and healthy learning environment.” 


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.


The Keeping All Students Safe Act is endorsed by:


National Organizations

Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), The Arc, National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools, Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), National Autism Association, SPAN Parent Advocacy Network, Family Alliance to Stop Abuse and Neglect, National Parent Teacher Association (National PTA), National Center for Parent Leadership, Advocacy, and Community Empowerment (National PLACE), Autism Society of America, Center for Public Representation, RespectAbility, Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR), CommunicationFIRST, National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, Higher Education Consortium for Special Education (HECSE), National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA), National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE), Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint, Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), and Bazelon Center.


State Organizations

The Arc of Arizona, The Arc of Maryland, The Arc of New Jersey, The Arc of Wisconsin, Parents Place of Maryland, Family Voices NJ, Parents Reaching Out (NM), and Parent Education Advocacy Leadership Center (PEAL Center; PA).