“This is about protecting vulnerable children,” Clere said. “There is no reason why this should cause any undue burden or excessive use of resources.”
Currently, the Indiana Department of Education encourages local school corporations to develop their own policies on the use of restraints and isolation techniques. But there is no requirement to do so.
“It’s a patchwork approach,” Clere said.
The legislation would require the state establish a commission that would develop a model policy that would be based on using locked isolation rooms and physical restraints as “last resort” techniques to keep students from harming themselves or others.
All schools would have to develop their own policies, using the commission’s model policy as a guide.
Though the legislation would cover all students — not just those with physical, mental or emotional disabilities — it has its strongest backing from organizations that advocate for children with special needs.
The U.S. Department of Education study released last year found that about 70 percent of the nearly 40,000 students who were restrained or isolated in seclusion rooms during the 2009-10 school year had learning, behavioral, physical or developmental needs.
The study also found that African-American and Hispanic students were also disproportionately isolated or restrained.
Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org