Maine's Keeping All Students Safe Act
Update on LD 1373 - An Act to Keep All Maine Students Safe by Restricting the Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Schools
LD 1373, An Act to Keep All Maine Students Safe by Restricting the Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Schools, has been amended to only include the necessary language to protect schools, teachers and students. The bill, in its original state, was controversial because some schools believed that it limited the strategies that a school could use with unregulated students. However, there were many parts of the bill that everyone agreed needed to be put into statute to protect schools, teachers, students, and parents.
What the amended version of LD 1373 does:
- Ensures that all schools collect data on the use of restraint and seclusion, not just public school districts and special purpose programs. Your school district is ALREADY doing this, but some 60/40 schools are not. This skews the data and prevents seeing where issues really are.
- Opens the door for school districts to receive technical assistance and potential funding for evidence-based programs that have shown to reduce rates of restraint and seclusion by giving educators tools that work to address behavior. Restraint and seclusion creates the risk of trauma and injury to both staff and student. If there are better ways, we need to bring that training into schools – without local budgets carrying the burden.
- Removes the most controversial language debated during the public hearing. The amendment allows for seclusion or supine restraint as emergency options. (Which is how it is today under Chapter 33)
- Ensures clarity by including a definition of “time out”, making clear that this intervention is still allowable regardless of whether or not there is an emergency. Time out is not seclusion.
- Makes Chapter 33, the rules that govern restraint and seclusion, a major substantive rule. The rule-making process will give everyone with a stake in this a chance to weigh in – so that all the issues can be aired, debated, and resolved.
The amended bill is the best of the political process. It includes compromise of all the points-of-view pass into statute. Schools’ voices were heard, so were families. Now we need to bring that middle ground to action so that we, as a State, can continue improving the education of children who sometimes present challenging behavior while keeping our students and staff safe.
Please reach out to your State Senator today and ask them to vote “yes” on the amended LD 1373 – for our children and our schools!
Details of Changes to LD 1373
Our allies in the Coalition Against Restraint and Seclusion, Disability Rights Maine, have put together a detailed list of how each part of LD 1373 has been amended in listening to the comments and criticisms from those opposed to the original language (click here for a PDF of this list):
LD 1373 (“An Act to Keep All Maine Students Safe by Restricting the Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Schools”), as amended, addresses stakeholder concerns while still providing important protections to Maine students.
LD 1373 has been amended by Committee Amendment A,i and House Amendment A.ii It passed the House as amended and is currently awaiting Senate action. These amendments, taken together, address the vast majority of concerns expressed by opponents to date, as outlined in the table below.iii
| Concerns with LD 1373 as introduced
|| Amendments made in response to concerns
| The prohibition on seclusion was the primary concern of many opposed to the bill. For example, MADSEC stated that: “The change of most concern is the prohibition on seclusion.” And Maine Behavioral Healthcare indicated that: “The primary difference and problem with this bill versus Chapter 33, is the elimination of the option of using seclusion to safely manage dangerous behavior that puts a child or others at imminent risk.” These concerns were echoed in the testimony of several others
|| The Committee Amendment delayed the implementation of the prohibition on seclusion to September 1, 2023. And the House Amendment removes the prohibition on the use of seclusion. LD 1373, as amended, would no longer prohibit the use of seclusion as an emergency intervention.
| The prohibition on the use of supine restraint was also identified as a concern, with some claiming that this might increase the risk of injury in certain situations. For example, the Collaborative School indicated: “we have grave concerns about the unintended consequences of eliminating the use of supine restraint as a measure of last resort.” This was echoed by the Association for Maine Behavior Analysis.
|| The Committee Amendment removed the prohibition on the use of supine restraint. LD 1373, as amended, would no longer prohibit the use of supine restraint.
| Several people expressed concerns about the prohibition on restraints that interfere with an individual’s primary mode of communication. For example, Maine Behavioral Healthcare called this an “unworkable requirement”.
|| The Committee Amendment removed the provision that prohibited restraint that interferes with communication. LD 1373, as amended, would no longer prohibit the use of restraints that interfere with the ability to communicate.
| Maine Behavioral Healthcare expressed a concern that there was no definition of “time out” in the bill.
|| The House Amendment includes a definition of timeout, taken directly from existing regulations. LD 1373 defines time out and makes clear that time out is not seclusion.
| Maine DOE expressed concerned about ambiguous language regarding when restraints are contraindicated due to a disability or medical condition.
|| The House Amendment removed the language identified by MDOE as ambiguous. LD 1373, as amended, clearly identifies the ways in which the contraindication of restraint will be documented.
Given these amendments, what remains of LD 1373 was not generally the subject of specific concerns. As amended, LD 1373 would do the following:
- LD 1373 would prohibit prone restraint. No one opposed this limitation at public hearing.
- LD 1373 would prohibit restraint or seclusion when it is contraindicated based on the student’s disability or health care needs or medical or psychiatric condition. The language MDOE previously identified as ambiguous in this provision has been removed.
- LD 1373 would permit the use of seclusion or restraint only when a student’s behavior poses an “imminent danger of serious physical injury”. Chapter 33 currently permits restraint when the behavior of a student “presents a risk of injury or harm to the student or others.” This heightened threshold for the use of emergency interventions is in line with what many who testified against the bill said they are already
- LD 1373 would provide clear statutory authority for MDOE to promulgate regulations, by requiring revisions to the current MDOE Rule Chapter 33, which would be a major substantive rule. This aspect of LD 1373 was not raised as a concern by anyone at the public hearing.
- LD 1373 would require any school in Maine that received public funds to comply with requirements for reporting the use of restraint and seclusion. This aspect of LD 1373 was not raised as a concern by anyone at the public hearing and in fact many opponents joined in the call for more comprehensive data collection.
- Finally, LD 1373 would require MDOE to provide technical assistance to schools to support evidence-based programs that reduce the likelihood of physical restraint and This aspect of the bill was never controversial. MDOE has indicated it is already engaged in these efforts and many opponents of the bill also identified a need for more technical assistance and training.
i Available here: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/getPDF.asp?paper=HP1007&item=2&snum=130
ii Available here: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/getPDF.asp?paper=HP1007&item=6&snum=130
iii This document was prepared by Disability Rights Maine. It is based on a review of the testimony in opposition to LD 1373 “An Act To Keep All Maine Students Safe by Restricting the Use of Seclusion and Restraint in Schools”, which is available here: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/display_ps.asp?ld=1373&PID=1456&snum=130&sec3
Information on the Original Bill
(this info is now out-of-date: the information above that includes the new amendments is what the bill does now!)
Passing this legislation would:
- Outlaw the use of seclusion and strengthen the limits on the use of physical restraint, protecting our most vulnerable students and creating a system of accountability.
- Keep children in their classrooms and safe from unnecessary grabbing and holding.
- Stop the practice of holding students in rooms by themselves against their will, which can be traumatizing. This bill would limit when school staff can lay hands on a child.
- Protect staff and students from injury. In the past 8 years, school staff have experienced serious bodily injuries 490 times because of a restraint or seclusion on a student. And there were over 50 serious bodily injuries for students.
- Save educational space and support staff availability. During the current disruption to education due to the covid-19 pandemic, it is critical that we have all possible space and staff available to educate our children. We cannot afford to lose space to seclusion rooms or lose staff to injuries.
Why do we need to pass Maine's Keeping All Students Safe Act?
- Restraint and Seclusion are harmful and traumatizing practices that do not improve behaviors and can have lasting impacts on the student and all involved.
- There is a strong body of evidence that shows that restraint and seclusion are both dangerous and lead to increased negative behaviors. Children are killed and injured yearly from the use of restraint, experience lasting trauma that leads to PTSD, and often show more challenging and dangerous behaviors after the use of these interventions.
- Teachers, school staff, and other students who perform or witness these interventions also have risks of harm or trauma.
- There are better ways to mitigate behavior! Positive behavioral supports have been implemented in school districts across the country, leading to huge reductions in the use of restraint and seclusion, and better outcomes across the board.
- Restraint and seclusion are used disproportionately on students with disabilities and minority students with disabilities.
- Despite mandates that restraint and seclusion only be used in emergency situations, teachers and school staff have been shown to use these techniques in order to punish or modify behavior – even though restraint and seclusion have been shown to make behaviors worse.
- Students with disabilities bear the brunt of these ineffective “behavior modifications” – particularly minority students with disabilities. Repeated experiences of these traumas can desensitize these students, label them as “troublemakers”, and push them into the School-to-Prison Pipeline.
- Every student has the right to a Free and Appropriate Public Education. Subjecting students to the trauma of restraint and seclusion takes away that right.
- Some schools have not been providing the restraint and seclusion data required by Chapter 33 rules.
- Despite rule making in 2013 that mandated reporting of restraint and seclusion by all public schools, many schools are providing incomplete data, or showing no uses of restraint and seclusion despite anecdotal evidence to the contrary.
- Special purpose schools are among the highest users of restraint and seclusion with some of the spottiest records of providing data – despite their students being the most vulnerable to these interventions.
- Some schools use terms like “isolation” or “quiet rooms” to get around rules about reporting seclusions. Don’t fall for it – if a student is required to go to a separate space alone and is prevented from leaving, that’s seclusion, no matter what schools label it.
- The Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions, and Seclusion (APRAIS, a coalition of 18 leading advocacy organizations) handout on federal efforts for legislation, including lots of information on myths and truths around restraint and seclusion: https://www.aucd.org/docs/APRAIS%20talking%20points.pdf