Statehouse looks at school restraint bill

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Teachers face a set of challenges when they step into the classroom.

And some across the state argue, those challenges increase for educators who oversee special needs students.

As one district reviews its policy because of an incident involving duct tape , the debate on whether teachers should be allowed to use forms of restraint continues to gain momentum.

Lawmakers were already looking into a restraint Senate bill months before 8-year-old Shaylyn Searcy came home from school with duct tape wrapped around her shoes and ankles . Her father, Nate Searcy, says the tape was so tight his daughter couldn’t walk.

The bill is specifically written to protect students from physical restraints used solely for discipline or convenience.

According to the bill's language, one purpose is to "ensure that physical restraints and seclusion are imposed in school only when a student's behavior poses an imminent danger of physical injury to the student, a school employee, or others."

It also requires schools to develop a policy on restraint; they must publish the policy in handbooks and make it available to the public.

Click here for to read Senate Bill 345.

Mary Jo Dare, special needs coordinator for Indiana University –Purdue University Indianapolis, supports the current bill.

“There are times, you may need to do some sort of physical restraint,” Dare said. “But never do it unless everyone involved is trained. Never do it without having (a) parent aware that this may occur.”

Dare, who brings nearly 30 years of experience to the table, says restraint and seclusion should only be used when everything else has failed or if there is an imminent danger to the child and others present.

Dare says preparing and properly training teachers is the first step to success.

“The only type of restraint that is appropriate is a human restraint, a hold,” she said. “You never use physical restraints of any kind,” adding preparing and properly training teachers is the first step to success.

24-Hour News 8 requested the restraint and seclusion polices from districts across Central Indiana. Some who responded have no policy in place, while others mirror federal recommendations which include isolated time out to protect a student from others.

Nate Searcy wonders what other measures have been used to discipline his daughter.

“(There is) no need to have duct tape in a handicapped classroom,” Searcy said. “It is hard telling what else has happened that we don’t know about. (Shaylyn) has incidents where she wants to put her head in your  lap and tell you are in time out, you stay there you don’t move. We don’t do that so she had to have picked it up from school.”

Advocates say this recent incident highlights the need for the current legislation.

Next week, a senate committee is expected to vote on the current proposal.

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