“Schools should be required to have a policy where every child, disabled or not, has the right to education and is treated with dignity and respect and a healthy and safe environment in which to learn,” Dodson said.
Dodson said the need for such legislation was made evident by an incident that occurred last week, when an 8-year-old child with Down Syndrome was sent from an Indianapolis area school with her shoes and socks duct-taped tightly to her ankles to prevent her from removing them. The child’s parents said the tape was wrapped so tightly that the child couldn’t walk and was placed in a wheelchair by school staff when she was sent home on a school bus.
Head’s bill would allow schools to develop their own policies as long as they meet certain standards spelled out in the legislation. Those standards include a requirement that school personnel be trained in the appropriate use of restraints and isolation rooms, and that those techniques be used as a last resort to keep a student from harming himself or others.
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, leaving the state with a patchwork of policies and practices.
“It’s hard to write a law that plans for every circumstance and every teacher is going to tell you that things are unpredictable so we want each school corporation to come up with policies that will work,” said Head. “But we want those policies made public, we want parents to understand how they will be used, and we want to make sure they’re not going to harmful to a child.”
— Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at email@example.com