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MO: New restraint/seclusion laws; 80 percent of kids have disabilities

Misuse of seclusion and restraint practices in Missouri has been a big problem for decades. On Saturday, new laws go into effect that add more regulation. The Missouri legislature passed House Bill 432 in the last session, which includes provisions to strengthen seclusion and restraint policies in schools, in a big win for advocates of children with disabilities. Those provisions came from House Bill 387, which was sponsored by Rep. Dottie Bailey (R-Eureka) and aimed specifically at this issue. "We're not going to let this happen to the kids anymore,” Bailey said. “It's a systemic problem that targets disadvantaged children.” According to the latest data from the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, there were over 101,000 reports of seclusion and restraint nationally. Of that total, 78% were students with disabilities, despite only making up 13% of all students. "Disproportionately seclusion restraint is used on kiddos with disabilities, mainly autism or some behavioral issue, and African American kids,” Bailey said. … "The evidence on seclusion and restraint is that it is traumatic and it doesn't change behaviors,” Missouri Disability Empowerment (MoDE) President Robyn Schelp said. “It shouldn't be used as a form of discipline.”… "He was in isolation rooms on a daily basis," Wilkinson said. "His mental health completely deteriorated."… Across Missouri and around the country, students face this same issue. Frankie Bono was a student at Francis Howell School District in St. Charles when he was placed in what he called the “blue room.” “My son was locked in a closet,” Bono’s mother Tracy said. “He didn't have the skills and ability to appropriately communicate what was really happening at school.”…


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