The state House on Monday overwhelmingly passed a bill to allow school staff to physically restrain or isolate students only in case of emergency, instead of as a regular part of a student's behavior plan.
A bill that would strengthen the law regarding physically restraining and secluding students in Washington state overwhelmingly passed the state House on Monday.
The bill will now head to the Senate.
House Bill 1240, which passed the House 68-29, would end the use of planned restraints and forced isolation as part of an individualized education plan, or IEP, for special-education students in Washington. Its sponsors say it will also protect all students — even those who don’t have special needs — from restraint and isolation except in situations of imminent harm.
“Every child in the state of Washington should be able to go to school every day without fear of being harmed,” Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement late Monday.
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Pollet said state law today is not clear enough that forcing a child into a secluded space to calm down, or using physical restraints, like holding a child to the ground, should only be a last resort after all other interventions have been tried. Some parents of special needs children have said they believe school staff rely too heavily on restraint and isolation to de-escalate tense moments in the classroom.
A similar bill in the Senate has passed both the Senate Education and Ways and Means committee.