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U.S. Ed. Dept. Posts States' Restraint and Seclusion Policies

The U.S. Department of Education has posted on its Web site this week a summary of state laws, regulations, policies, and guidelines regarding the use of restraint and seclusion techniques in schools.

The education department researched and compiled the information after U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had issued a letter to chief state school officers on July 31, 2009, urging a review of current state policies.

"Restraint and seclusion policies should be reviewed regularly to prevent the abuse of such techniques and ensure that schools provide a safe learning environment for all of our children," Duncan said in a news release. "I am pleased that many states and territories have begun to work with their stakeholders to develop or revise current practices. The Department will continue to serve as a resource throughout the process to ensure that all students are safe and protected."

Restraint and seclusion policies have been under scrutiny recently.

A Government Accountability Office report in May found allegations that children had been abused, or even died, because of misuse of restraint and seclusion in schools. Many of the children on whom these practices are used are students with disabilities. The practices are meant to be used in emergencies when students are a danger to themselves or others.

A bill that would regulate the use of restraint and seclusion on students in schools, and require any use of such practices to be reported to parents, was passed by the House Education and Labor Committee earlier this month. The bill would be the first national regulation of such practices, as the state policies vary.

With committee approval, now the full U.S. House of Representatives can take up the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act.

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