Sign On To Support Restraint Seclusion Bill

I am writing because Senator Tom Harkin (Chair of the Senate Committee for Education) has introduced a national bill to protect students from dangerous restraint and seclusion in school. I have been asked to seek two things. First, we are asking groups and organizations to sign onto a joint letter in support of the bill. National, State, and Local groups are welcome. The first item below has instructions and information. Second, groups that wish to can also write their own letter of support for the bill and send it directly to Senator Harkin’s staff. Instructions are in the second item below.

I. SIGN ONTO ORGANIZATIONAL AND GROUP JOINT LETTER TO SENATOR HARKIN SUPPORTING THE RESTRAINT/SECLUSION BILL.

Senator Tom Harkin (Chair, Health Education Labor and Pension Committee) introduced S. 2020, the Keeping All Students Safe Act to protect students from dangerous restraint and seclusion on December 16, 2011. The bill will establish vitally-needed national minimum standards to protect all school children nationwide.

Under Senator Harkin’s bill, physical restraint will be prohibited except in emergency situations when there is an immediate threat of serious bodily injury. The bill bans seclusion of children in locked rooms or rooms from which they cannot exit. It bans life-threatening restraint that interferes with breathing or the ability to communicate, and mechanical and chemical restraints. It requires schools to notify parents within 24 hours of restraint. If there is imminent danger of harm staff may only use the degree of force necessary to stop the threat of harm. It requires the collection of data to improve decision-making and provide the public with information about practices long kept secret. Specific language and a bill summary are attached.

We are seeking signatures for a broad organizational sign-on letter in support of the bill and request sign on by December 30, 2011. The initial letter will be sent to Senator Harkin’s office at the end of this week and then a full list on December 30, 2011. We will continue to collect sign-ons after that date for a later round. Please go to
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KeepingAllStudentsSafeAct to read the letter and complete the brief form to sign on. The letter summarizes the bill, as well.

It is important that as many National, State, or Local organizations sign on as possible. We will provide information in January for how individuals can support the bill.

Have a Happy Holiday and thanks very much,
Denise Marshall, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, denise@copaa.org
Cindy Smith, National Disability Rights Network, cindy.smith@ndrn.org
Jessica Butler, Autism National Committee, jessica@jnba.net

===============================

II. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEND A SEPARATE LETTER FROM YOUR ORGANIZATION TO SENATOR HARKIN SUPPORTING THE RESTRAINT/SECLUSION BILL

Senator Harkin is also welcoming individual letters from national, state, and local groups and organizations in support of the Keeping All Students Safe Act, S.2020. Please put the letter on your letterhead or include your logo in your email if you can. You can send these letters directly to Senator Harkin’s Education and Disability Policy Advisor, Michael Gamel-McCormick

Thanks much,
Jessica Butler

Congressional Affairs Coordinator

Autism National Committee (AutCom)
21 years of advocating for the rights of children and adults with autism
email: jessica@jnba.net
www.autcom.org