Story by Liza Long, Photography by Pete Grady
From the Greenbelt Magazine
Treasure Valley Resource Fair and the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Adventure Island Playground
Long Sought Legislation on Restraint & Seclusion Introduced in Senate
APRAIS coalition applauds the introduction of the Keeping All Students Safe Act by Sen. Harkin
The Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion, known as APRAIS, applauds the much sought-after introduction of the Keeping All Students Safe Act by U.S. Senator Harkin, (D-Iowa) and co-sponsored by Senator Murphy (D-Conn.). If passed, the legislation will provide federal protections for students by prohibiting abusive seclusion and restraint use in schools. Representatives George Miller (D-Calif.) and Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) introduced a similar bill in the House last year (HR 1893).
APRAIS, a 30-member coalition that has advocated for a federal baseline of protections for years, believes the long overdue legislation will ensure the prevention of practices that cause physical and emotional harm to students with and without disabilities. These practices have resulted in the serious injury, emotional trauma and death of hundreds of children nationwide.
“The lack of protections for students limiting the use of restraint and seclusion has proven to be a disastrous missing component of our national education policy for children and parents. If passed, the Keeping all Students Safe Act will align federal education policy with all other federal policy related to human services and for the nation’s youngest, most vulnerable citizens,” said Barb Trader, Executive Director of TASH, which founded the APRAIS coalition. “The members of the APRAIS coalition and TASH are grateful to Senators Harkin and Murphy for their leadership on this issue, and urge swift passage of this legislation that fully protects each student’s right to be safe at school.”
The introduction of the bill was preceded by the release of a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the use of restraint and seclusion in public schools. Instances of restraint and seclusion use in 10 states are highlighted, describing the impact on students and families. It reveals that parents of students who are restrained or secluded are not notified and highlights difficulties they face, once aware, to end abusive use of these techniques by school staff. This follows a 2009 report, also by the GAO, which drew national attention to this issue. Both reports found abusive practices were occurring in schools throughout the U.S. Both reports also acknowledge that no federal laws exist restricting restraint and seclusion in schools, and state laws vary widely if they exist at all.
The APRAIS coalition has worked with Sen. Harkin and others in Washington for a number of years urging for adequate protection from and reporting of restraint and seclusion instances in schools. Representatives George Miller and Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wash.) first introduced the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (HR 4247) which passed the House with bipartisan support in 2010. Since that time, numerous reports, national data collection by the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, and news reports have highlighted alarmingly frequent use of restraint and seclusion in public schools. You can learn more about the APRAIS coalition, TASH and nationwide efforts to prevent restraint and seclusion by visiting www.tash.org/aprais and http://stophurtingkids.com.
New Section 504/ADA Guidance from the U.S. Department of Education
January 19, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released new guidance regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act’s impact on public elementary and secondary education programs. The Dear Colleague Letter and Questions and Answers document discuss how Section 504 and the ADAAA define disability and the obligation of school districts to evaluate students for disability, provide a free appropriate public education to students with disabilities, and provide procedural safeguards for identification, evaluation, and educational placement. See links below for further information and resources.January 19th, 2012,
- Dear Colleague Letter: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201109.html
- Questions and Answers Document: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/dcl-504faq-201109.html
- U.S. Department of Education Press Release: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/department-education-issues-ada-amendments-act-dear-colleague-letter-provide-gui
- Blog Post from Russlynn Ali, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/01/18/equal-access-education
Regional Early Childhood Committees and State Early Childhood Coordinating Council (EC3) Opportunities for Parents
Idaho's Regional Early Childhood Committees seek parent participation: 20% of total membership will be parents of children with disabilities. Child with disabilities must be under age 13. RECC's advise and assist the implementation of the Infant Toddler Program (ITP) in the region. Infant Toddler Program operations are under the guidance and direction of the Regional Program Manager and Early Intervention Specialist. The RECC will facilitate the discussion of transition issues, eligibility issues and inter-agency issues in regard to early intervention services. A formal process exists for dispute resolution. REEC's disseminate public awareness materials for typical and atypical child development, infant toddler program information and education and evidenced-based practices for early childhood programs will take place annually.
The Early Childhood Coordinating Council also seeks parent participation. The EC3 is responsible for developing a sustainable and coordinated statewide-plan to achieve mutually defined goals for early care and learning with evidence-based outcomes and approval and support from stakeholders, as well as the Governor and will facilitate the activities of the Early Childhood Coordinating Council which will establish an ongoing communication network between state agencies, policymakers, families, stakeholders and communities for the purpose of planning and implementation of a coordinated system of early care and learning in Idaho. 20% of Council membership will be parents of young children with developmental delays or disabilities.
Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare - Children’s System Redesign
The goal of the Children's System Redesign is to implement a system of care that has an improved array of Medicaid benefits for children with developmental disabilities. Beginning July 1, 2011, children will be phased into the new system according to their birth dates. Be sure to visit the updated website for new information. www.redesignforchildren.medicaid.idaho.gov.
The Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health -SIBSHOPS
Sibshops is a program designed for brothers and sisters of kids with special needs. The Federation of Families will be hosting two separate dates on October 20th and November 19th. To register call 208.433.8845.