Few would dispute that school staffers should physically restrain children rarely and should tell parents when they can’t avoid doing so. But turning this proposition into the law of the land has proven surprisingly difficult, reports ProPublica. Even as awareness has grown about the frequency with which schools use restraints — and about the injuries that can result from such practices — federal bills to curtail the use of restraints have stalled.
As ProPublica detailed last week, public schools put children in restraints or so-called seclusion, holding them in a room against their will, at least 267,000 times in just one school year. Teachers, high school principals and the U.S. Department of Education have all endorsed the idea of limiting the use of restraints to emergencies. But lobbies representing school district leaders and boards have combined with congressional Republicans to stymie such legislation. Prominent Republicans say that even if restraints should be limited, the federal government shouldn’t be in the business of setting school policy and the matter should be left up to state and local leaders.