Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity


Posted at 6:30 AM ET, 03/ 4/2010

Congress moves quickly to stop abuse at schools--NOT

By Valerie Strauss

Last spring, a U.S. government investigation found hundreds of cases of alleged abuse and deaths of children who were subjected to seclusion and restraints in public and private schools over the previous two decades.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office also revealed that there were no federal laws restricting the use of these disciplinary tactics, Such federal protections already exist for children in hospitals.

Some of the cases were egregious: A 7-year-old was believed to have died after being held face down for hours by school staff; 5-year-olds were allegedly tied to chairs with bungee cords and duct tape, suffering broken arms and bloody noses.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, state laws on restraint and seclusion vary widely. Nineteen states have no laws at all. Of the 31 states that do have laws in place, many are not comprehensive enough to protect all students, in every kind of school.

You’d think that would call for some immediate action. Well, Congress moved as quickly as it possibly could.

Yesterday, almost a year after the GAO report, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Keeping All Students Safe Act,” or, HR 4247 which would, for the first time, establish minimum federal standards for how students can be disciplined. The effort was led by Rep. George Miller (D-CA).

The House approved the bill by a 262 to 153 vote.

How on earth could anybody not want to set minimum standards against discplinary tactics that amount to abuse?

Republican opponents argued that federal standards stamped all over the rights of states to make their own rules. You know, the states that never passed any bills to prevent this behavior.

Minnesota Rep. John Kline, the ranking Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, who voted against the bill in the committee, said in a statement yesterday:

“There is no doubt that the safety and security of our nation’s students must be priority number one for parents, teachers, and school administrators. However, this legislation offers a one-size-fits-all federal solution that may actually make it more difficult for teachers and school leaders to keep our classrooms safe. With this bill, Congress is taking steps to prematurely regulate, at the federal level, issues that have not been fully investigated or reviewed. This is not a prudent course of action.”

(Kline, for the record, used to support President George H.W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind bill which, for the first time, gave the federal government the right to tell teachers how to teach reading. However, now he wants to rewrite the law.)

The Keeping All Students Safe bill says that physical restraint or locked seclusion is acceptable only when there is “imminent danger of injury and only when imposed by trained staff.”

It contains a list of prohibitions, including the use of any mechanical restraint such as strapping kids to chairs, as well as chemical restraint (meaning using medications to control behavior). I was especially relieved to see that it prohibits “any restraint that restricts breathing” because that wouldn't be strikingly obvious to the ordinary person, would it?

Within two years of the establishment of federal standards, each state is supposed to have its own policies, procedures, monitoring and enforcement systems in place to meet the minimum standards.

The Senate has yet to vote on it.

-0-

Follow my blog all day, every day by bookmarking washingtonpost.com/answersheet And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out our new Higher Education page at washingtonpost.com/higher-ed Bookmark it!

By Valerie Strauss  | March 4, 2010; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  Bullying  | Tags:  Congress, abuse in school  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Linking college academics to careers
Next: Don't send grade hackers to jail

Comments

The "Keep All Students Safe Act" does NOT ABOLISH Physical/Corporal Punishment of Children in Schools, already ILLEGAL in 30 states!

U.S. Schools have no excuse for administering Corporal Punishment. It is already ILLEGAL in Schools in 30 States and there are Non-Violent Alternatives to Discipline. It is a deterrent to attracting residents and businesses to improve communities.
As sent to: Mr. Geoffrey Canada, President and Founder Harlem Children's Zone - Please help our education system ABOLISH Corporal Punishment is SCHOOLS in 20 States. I am unable to protect my 3 children from overhearing classmates being threatened/paddled just outside class, then the battered student is further humiliated when they immediately face classmates when they return to their seat. Tennessee State Law does NOT require parental Consent or Notification for Children to be physically punished (Paddled) in Schools. Texas and Mississippi hold the first and second place spots for injuring children by paddling them with WOODEN PADDLES. Maintaining order through fear and violence is never justified and creates a learning environment filled with FEAR, INTIMIDATION, ANXIETY, DREAD and HUMILIATION and puts school districts at risk for lawsuits from paddling injuries.! A principal in Texas was arrested for injuring an elementary school child last month and a Federal Lawsuit has been filed to ban school paddling in Miss. and also seeks a Declaration that School Corporal Punishment is UNCONSTITUTIONAL! In denying the restraining order, Judge Pepper said that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Eighth Amendment to the United States Consti tution, a prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment cited in the lawsuit, did not apply to corporal punishment. Judge Pepper also ruled that the plaintiff failed to show that he was in imminent danger of another paddling.

We've been working over 2 years to raise awareness and demand accountability (Abolishment of Physical/Corporal Punishment, where school employees HIT Children with WOODEN PADDLES to deliberately inflict physical pain and suffering intended to Punish them, A FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION!). My local school board INGORED our written/verbal presentation in April 2008 during "National Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month" to demand they Prohibit CP in Schools and Federal and State Govt's informed us that our children's healthy and safety in schools is a "Local Issue" left up to autonomous school district boards. For information on Non-Violent Discipline Alternatives please visit the Center For Effective Discipline at www.stophitting.org


La Vega principal's arrest puts spotlight on corporal punishment policies

Posted by: gworley1 | March 4, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company