Parents of disabled students are asking school districts to do a better job of documenting incidents when children are secluded or restrained.
A Senate committee will consider HB 2444 today. The House passed it last month.
Advocates for disability rights and parents of disabled children say Kansas schools don’t comply with the current voluntary guidelines. The parents want to know when their child is being secluded or when teachers use restraint.
The advocates want two things: training for teachers and transparency.
“Some parents find out about these incidents when they see bruises on their child,” said Rocky Nichols of the Disability Rights Center of Kansas.
The bill says: “a child with a disability shall not be physically restrained or placed in a seclusion room except by a school employee who has had training in the appropriate use of these techniques.”
The Senate Education committee was expected to vote March 8, but instead spent more than an hour hearing from 16 speakers — nine proponents, six opponents and one neutral speaker — about the bill.
Parent Kelsyn Rooks said his autistic son was secluded 11 times without his permission or knowledge in the Blue Valley school district. When he asked for documentation, it took 11 weeks because the documentation was not kept, he said.
Lori McCollum of the Seaman district said she saw her son put into a seclusion room, but was never told by administrators about the incident.
Seclusion and restraint are “not a good option,” said Linda Aldridge, who works for the Kansas Association of Special Education Administration.
Sue Storm, a former legislator who is now a state board of education member, agreed. “We do not recommend them as a behavioral tool,” she said.
Opponents of the bill generally seemed to agree on the need for better communication between parents and teachers, but said the bill was not the way to foster that.
Kansas is among 13 states that have voluntary guidelines when it comes to seclusion and restraint of children with a disability. This bill would align it with 36 states that have enacted protections to regulate schools’ use of seclusion and restraint.