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  • Secluding Schools and Restraining States: Congress Prepares to Regulate Private Schools

    The Keeping Children Safe Act might sound laudable in name, but it represents the most recent intrusion of the federal government on local public and private schools. H.R. 4247, which passed the House last week by a vote of 262 to 153, prescribes federal regulations on seclusion and restraint disciplinary procedures used by teachers to control violent students. While the intentions may have been to protect children, the compliance requirements make the legislation another unnecessary and unfunded federal burden on states and local schools.

    The bill contains an unprecedented mandate for increased teacher training, requiring schools – both public and private – to employ at least one teacher trained in federally-defined appropriate disciplinary action. The legislation also requires affected schools to report yearly disaggregated data on every instance of physical restraint or seclusion, as defined in the bill, and any parental follow up that occurs after such instances.

    In a rare expansion of federal regulation of private schools, the bill will apply to all Title 1 schools or any academic institution that receives federal funding under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. According to the Council for American Private Education (CAPE), the bill would apply to 80 percent of private, Catholic schools and many more private and religious institutions across the country. CAPE notes the danger inherent in allowing the federal government’s hand to slip into the administration of private institutions:

    The bill represents an unprecedented degree of federal control of private schools that threatens their autonomy and puts them between a rock and a hard place: accept the federal intrusion in policies and practices or give up participation in federal programs that benefit students and their teachers. By using even limited involvement in federal programs as the pathway for regulating schools, the bill establishes a dangerous precedent for federal control of private education in the future.

    A recent report by the U.S. Department of Education found that 31 states have some policy on restraint and/or seclusion and 15 of the remaining states are currently working towards legislation regulating the use of seclusion techniques, especially with special needs children. Since the House bill requires regulation of disciplinary actions within two years, some fear the federal government’s intrusion in the matter will hinder current advancements in protecting children. As Rep. John Kline stated in his remarks opposing the House bill:

    It would do a disservice to the safety of our children and their teachers for Congress to hastily take action that either undercuts existing efforts at the local level or delays implementation of state-based reforms. While ignoring the warnings reported by the GAO is not an option, taking action before we have all the facts is equally problematic. There are dangers to federal overreach, including this bill’s abandonment of longstanding precedent that prevents federal education mandates from being imposed on private schools.

    While student safety should always be considered, policymakers must avoid unnecessary and overbearing federal intrusion into the daily administration and policies of local schools. Empowering those closest to the student is critical for maintaining school discipline and making decisions most appropriate to individual student needs.

    Sarah Torre currently is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Secluding Schools and Restraining States: Congress Prepares to Regulate Private Schools

    1. Karl Berntson, Maryl says:

      The States need to stand up to their rights. Education is not a Federal issue. Where is the GOP? We have to stop congress from taking away States' powers and I would expect the GOP to lead this effort. If not, we need to establish a viable third party.

    2. OJTA, NJ says:

      "prescribes federal regulations on seclusion and restraint disciplinary procedures used by teachers to control violent students."

      Thank God the federal government is stepping up on something that really matters, the safety of our nation's children. If the states on all levels including but not limited to, the state DOE, the state institutional abuse, the state police, the judicial system handled these situations appropriately, then the federal government need not get involved. However, when the states fail to protect 3 year old children who get strapped to chairs because they failed to sit in circle time the first time they were asked because they have special needs….then who else will be the voice of these children. It is not just about the "violent" children, it is about the innocent children and their basic civil rights being violated, whether those civil rights are violated in a public or private school setting. Why not have the federal government step up to the plate and carve out funding to train our nation's teachers on positive behavioral supports to teach children the correct behavior as opposed to traumatizing them with seclusion and restraints.

    3. Billie says:

      i wish my previous comment regarding education would've been posted!

      Government is intruding wherever there is success! Government needs to be put in their place NOW, for the well being of the people!

    4. Billie says:

      and with special regard in keeping children safe from GOVERNMENT INFLUENCE.

      Private schools are successful, therefore government will make it harder for them.

      Since government is destroying EDUCATION AND PERSONAL ACHIEVEMENT, what is their definition of "success," in America, today?

    5. Aaron, Ohio says:

      From the bill, “Physical restraint and seclusion have resulted in physical injury, psychological trauma, and death to children in public and private schools”

      Note that they do not say whether this is more or less than the number of students protected from physical injury, psychological trauma, and death due to the use of physical restraint and seclusion on their more dangerous peers.

    6. stirling, Pennsylvan says:

      Welcome to Obama's "Nany State" on steroids, where the government dictates and mandates everything that is said, and done. A private school is a private insitution and should not have governments tenacles reaching into it like this, and even in public schools keep it to a minimum for the sake of allowing the schools to give "unbiased" education to their students. The states and schools know whats best for their students and would normally take apropriate action anyway to resolve issues. Don't let something like this lead us down the road to a European Socalist top down education system.

    7. Dewane Wonser Klamat says:

      I've got nothing against you posting my email address, Schools should only have a certain amount of authority, restraints, no, seclusion no, I donr care if its a teachers idea, school supers. idea, B.O.s idea, I ever find ouit one of my childrens been restrained or secluded, and things will be reversed, the restrainer will be restrained, the isolater will be isolated, the can of worms will be opened

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