The “Keeping All Students Safe Act” (S. 2036 and H.R.1893), recently introduced in the United States Congress, would require all states to adhere to principles already found in Texas state law designed to protect students with disabilities from restraint and seclusion. So what are Texas’ laws related to restraint and seclusion of students with disabilities and can these laws be improved?
What is Texas law on restraint and seclusion?
Disability advocates generally consider restraint and seclusion to be dangerous practices that should be reserved for emergencies. Advocates recommend that some practices, such as restraints that interfere with a person’s ability to breathe, are so dangerous that they should never be used. Training should be provided that is of the highest quality and parents should be notified of any use of restraints or seclusion.
Texas state law contains many of the principles that are proposed in the Keeping All Students Safe Act. Texas law:
- prohibits the seclusion of students with disabilities
- limits the use of restraint to emergency situations
- requires parental notification of the use of restraint
- requires training for school personnel, including in prevention and de-escalation techniques
- requires schools to collect and make public data on the use of restraint
How can Texas law be improved?
To bring Texas law in line with all of the principles found in the Keeping all Students Safe Act, Texas should:
- expand protections for students with disabilities to include all students
- require a debriefing session for the student, parent, and school personnel after an incident of restraint
- explicitly ban the use of restraints that obstruct breathing (currently only implicit)
- require that school personnel attempt a less restrictive intervention or determine that a less restrictive intervention would be ineffective before using a restraint
For More Information
A state-by-state analysis of laws and rules related to restraint and seclusion for school children was recently released by Jessica Butler. The report PDF, entitled “How Safe is the School House? A Summary and Analysis of State Restraint and Seclusion Laws and Policies,” is available online in the Autism National Committee’s Public Policy webpage Restraint/Seclusion section autcom.org/policy.html#Restraint/Seclusion, Summary and Analysis of State Restraint and Seclusion Laws and policies link to the PDF.
School districts may request technical assistance about restraint and time-out issues from the Texas Behavior Support Initiatives contacts at regional education service centers.
The Texas Education Agency’s Division of IDEA Coordination can be contacted for questions about students with disabilities in Texas schools at 512-463-9414 or firstname.lastname@example.org.