HB 459

HB 459

TCDD Bill of the Week: HB 459


For this weekly feature, we profile a noteworthy bill going through the legislative process. The bill may relate directly to TCDD’s Public Policy Priorities or another disability-related issue.

Bill: House Bill (HB) 459, which would ban the physical restraint and use of chemical irritants on certain public school students by peace officers and school security personnel under certain circumstances.

Bill Author: Rep. Lacey Hull, House District 138 (Houston)

Joint Authors:



Share this bill

We’ve created a Bill of the Week one-pager (PDF) for HB 459. This is a simplified explanation of the bill that you can share with your representative and personal network.


The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) defines a general physical restraint as any “personal restriction that immobilizes or reduces the ability of a student to move his or her torso, arms, legs, or head freely.” More specific restraint techniques known as “prone and supine” involve staff taking a student to the ground either facing down or up. OCR guidance emphasizes the use of restraints only as an emergency measure to address imminent threats of harm to a student or others and not a routine behavior management technique. Moreover, the OCR explicitly warns against using any restraints “that restrict breathing … because they can cause serious injury or death.” Despite years of federal guidance, state restraint statutes and regulations vary across the United States.

Students with disabilities represent approximately 9.8% of the state’s school population, but they experienced 91% of restraints in Texas public schools during the 2018-2019 school year, according to a 2020 report (PDF, 22 pages, 612 KB) by Disability Rights Texas. In recent years, there have been numerous reports of Texas students with disabilities being traumatized, injured, and even killed as a result of restraint, including the following examples:

  • A Fort Worth ISD student with autism was held and restrained face down by school staff. He began gurgling and his lips turned blue before he passed out. He was pronounced dead a few hours later.

  • A 10-year-old Forney ISD student with dwarfism and chronic migraines was duct-taped to a chair because he “wouldn’t be still.” While unattended and still restrained, several of his classmates began hitting him over the head.

Multiple disability advocacy organizations, including TCDD, hosted a press conference on harmful restraint practices on Jan. 30, 2023. A group of Texas lawmakers provided remarks and discussed legislation on the topic that they hoped would be passed in the current session. Among the speakers was Rep. Lacey Hull, who discussed HB 459.

What does the bill do?

As filed, HB 459 would amend the Education Code to prohibit peace officers and school security personnel from restraining or using a chemical irritant spray on students age 10 or younger, except in situations where the students pose a serious threat to themselves or others. The ban would apply to law enforcement duties or security-related duties on school property or at a school-sponsored or school-related activity.

If passed, HB 495 would take effect on Sept. 1, 2023, or immediately if it received an affirmative vote of two-thirds in both the House and the Senate. The bill would apply beginning in the 2023-2024 school year.

At a March 20, 2023, hearing, the bill author expanded HB 459 to include school district employees and volunteers, ban prone and supine restraints, and apply to charter schools.

Rep. Lacey Hull

Statement from Rep. Lacey Hull, bill author:

Rep. Lacey Hull

Statement from Rep. Lacey Hull, bill author:

“Like many of you, I have been horrified by stories of elementary-age children who have been forcibly restrained with handcuffs at school or school activities. Oftentimes, these students have known intellectual or developmental disabilities and are experiencing a behavioral episode that should be addressed with proper de-escalation strategies.”

Where is the bill in the process?

On March 20, 2023, HB 459 received a public hearing before the House Select Committee on Youth Health and Safety and was left pending. This means that the committee did not vote on the bill and it could be considered again at a future committee meeting. You can watch the discussion on the bill here, beginning at the 7:07:05 mark.

Who supports the bill and why?

The following comments were given as testimony at the March 20 hearing on HB 459:

  • Minaret Foundation: Noor Saleh, the government relations coordinator for Minaret Foundation, testified in support of the bill. Saleh indicated that “across our state, children as young as 4 have experienced and witnessed the use of physical, mechanical, and chemical restraint.” She continued: “Our children have been held to the ground, they’ve been handcuffed, pepper sprayed, and tased for violations as inconsequential as refusing to be seated during story time.” Saleh also highlighted the negative impacts that restraining students can have on the mental health of law enforcement officers and educators, sometimes resulting in PTSD, anxiety, and depression. She emphasized: “It is imperative that we understand the implications restraints can have on our children, officers, and educators.”
  • Girls Empowerment Network: Ana O’Quin, the policy fellow for the Girls Empowerment Network, submitted public comments in support of the bill. In her testimony, she highlighted the detrimental effects restraints can have on elementary school-aged children, indicating that “restraint can trigger both short-term and long-term problems in sleep, learning, relationship[s] and trust. Trauma developed as a part of being subjected to restraint can impede a child’s development.” O’Quin added: “For our youth to recognize their own abilities, they must first feel safe, both at home and at school. To build self-efficacy and positively impact the trajectory of their lives, students must be protected from unnecessary trauma at school.”

Additional groups testifying in support of the bill included Texas Appleseed, the Texas Center for Justice and Equity, IDRA (Intercultural Development Research Association), and the Citizens Commission on Human Rights.

The following groups also registered their support for HB 459 but provided no testimony: The Arc of Texas, Children At Risk, Clarity Child Guidance Center, Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, Compass Rose Public Schools, Disability Rights Texas, Every Texan, Lioness Justice Impacted Women’s Alliance, Lone Star Justice Alliance, Mental Health America of Greater Houston, Methodist Healthcare Ministries, Mexican American School Boards Association, NAMI Texas, National Association of Social Workers – Texas Chapter, Parent Guidance Center, Texans for Special Education Reform, Texas Association of School Psychologists, Texans Care for Children, Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, Texas Parent to Parent, Texas Pediatric Society, Texas PTA, Texas Public Charter Schools Association, Texas Public Policy Foundation, and Texas School Alliance.

Who opposes the bill and why?

No testimony was registered in opposition to HB 459.

Additional testimony

The following comments were given as testimony at the March 20 hearing on HB 459.

  • TCDD: Sabrina Gonzalez Saucedo, a public policy analyst for TCDD, testified on the bill. She explained that “while restraint is meant to be used in only the most extreme circumstances, young children, especially those with disabilities, are being restrained inappropriately at alarming rates as a form of discipline.” Gonzalez Saucedo recommended expanding the applicable age in the bill, stating, “The restraint of students under age 10 … should be prohibited, but students with disabilities of all ages should be similarly protected.” She also recommended ensuring that a statutory prohibition on certain aversive techniques clearly applies to peace officers and security personnel in schools. These interventions include the application of electric shock; denial of food, water, or access to bathroom facilities; and “timeout” procedures that isolate the student by the use of physical barriers; among others.

Additional information

TCDD adopted the following language among our 2023 Public Policy Priorities:

Restraint and Seclusion: Standardize the definitions, data collection and reporting, training, and communications across all agencies to maximize the use of best practices and lessen the unnecessary use of dangerous restraint and seclusion procedures, including related practices such as time-out.

The Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, in a February 2023 report (PDF, 75 pages, 674 KB) to the Legislature, recommends “prohibiting [the] use of certain restraints on special education students enrolled in public schools.”

How much will the bill cost?

The Legislative Budget Board found HB 459 would not impact the state budget in a significant way.

Is there a Senate companion to the bill?

Senate Bill (SB) 133 by Sen. Royce West is identical to HB 459 and was reported favorably by the Senate Education Committee on March 29. It now awaits consideration by the full Senate.

Stay informed

For the latest information about where HB 459 is in the process, follow the bill on the Texas Legislature Online. To receive future legislative updates from TCDD, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram.



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