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NEA backs new bills to create federal school safety guidelines

WASHINGTON - December 09, 2009 -

The National Education Association applauds lawmakers for introducing legislation that would create federal standards around restraint and seclusion in schools. Bills introduced today in both the House and Senate would set minimum safety standards in schools, ban mechanical restraints, limit physical restraints and seclusion to situations involving imminent danger, require parental notification of such situations and mandate professional training for staff.

“Safe school environments have always been a priority for the NEA,” said Dennis Van Roekel, president of NEA. “NEA has been advocating for federal guidelines around this issue. We worked with a coalition of disability groups and other education organizations to provide input on the current House and Senate bills. We must work together to ensure the safety of all students and educators and create supports that provide proper training for school staff.”

NEA believes there are many tactics that can be used prior to restraint or seclusion. For instance, educators should be trained to observe situations or triggers that lead to negative behavior and avoid them. Educators should be trained in prevention and de-escalation techniques. NEA also encourages schools to implement schoolwide positive behavioral support programs and behavior intervention plans for students who need them. Such programs would teach students the proper way to behave instead of assuming they know. They also would require communication with parents to talk about behaviors that are acceptable in school, so that expectations are reinforced at home.

NEA believes restraint and seclusion should be used only as a last resort in emergency situations when a student is going to seriously harm him/herself, school personnel or others, and only for as long as the student needs to calm down or until the emergency situation is resolved. Restraint and seclusion should not be used as punishment. Educators should be properly trained on such tactics before using them.

“Through its IDEA Resource Cadre, NEA has developed appropriate resources for members, including a free online guide on preventing and addressing violent behavior that will be available this month,” added Van Roekel. “We are pleased that the proposed legislation will support improved training for school personnel and enhance school safety for students and all education professionals.”

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.


CONTACT: Ramona Parks-Kirby  (202) 822-7823,