Maine's Keeping All Students Safe Act
The Maine Coalition Against Restraint and Seclusion (CARS) is calling for your comments on LD 1373, Maine's Keeping All Students Safe Act!!!
You can voice your opinion on this legislation by providing written or live testimony, engaging with your local legislators, and spread the word by sharing this with everyone you know!!! You can find the legislative information on this bill by clicking here.
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.
What you can do! **Our window of time is limited**
- Sign up to provide written testimony or testify live with a new online portal at the Maine legislature! [Note - you won't be able to do this until a Public Hearing is scheduled - but having your testimony written ahead of time is a good idea]
- See the below letter to get you started.
- Talk to your legislators! Go the this page to find a list of Education Committee members with contact information.
- Share this information with everyone you know!
You can use this letter to get you started!
Dear Representative ______________,
I am writing to you today to please PASS LD 1373, Maine's Keeping All Students Safe Act. I am concerned about the high use of restraint & seclusion (R&S) in our schools.
Tell them about yourself here -> My family lives in the Falmouth school District and our experience with R&S started back when our child began kindergarten.
Maine schools restrain more children per capita than any other state in the nation. And Maine secludes children at the second highest rate in the nation.
Every child should be safe and protected while in school. Sadly, that is not always the case. The U.S. Dept. of Education recently reported that across the nation, 78% of the students who were restrained at school or were placed in seclusion were classified as a student with a disability. In Maine, it is even higher! 90% of schools’ use of R&S is on students with disabilities.
This new law would protect our most vulnerable students and require the MDOE to report on the data collection to the legislature, develop a performance review system, and provide the much-needed data to the agencies tasked with oversight of our education system.
R&S are harmful and traumatizing practices that do not improve behaviors and can have lasting impacts on the student, and all involved. R&S are both dangerous and lead to increased negative behaviors. Students are injured, experience lasting trauma that leads to PTSD, and often shows more challenging and dangerous behaviors after using these interventions. Even more concerning is that students from other states have died because of the inappropriate use of R&S. Please do not let this happen in Maine.
I implore you to please PASS LD 1373 to prevent these negative outcomes from continuing, year after year.
Parent and others.
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