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Oregon: Governor signs bill to reduce "room clears"/"restraint"/"behavioral outburst"

June 10, 2019, Eugene (OR) Register Guard: Governor signs bill to reduce room clears, address disruption in public schools Oregon teachers and public school staff now will have more clarity when it comes to ways to appropriately address disruptive behavior in classrooms. Gov. Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 963 on Thursday, which modifies the permissible uses of restraint and seclusion of students in public education, in an attempt to tamp down the number of room clears and classroom disruptions. The legislation was sponsored by 31 lawmakers and drew bipartisan support, according to a news release from House Rep. Cheri Helt (R-Bend). The bill is in response to the escalating issue of behavioral outbursts among students and frequent classroom clears. A classroom clear is when a teacher has every other student leave the room other than the one being disruptive or having an outburst. But for some districts, the change is still too new to fully understand its weight or what change it could bring. “The bill clarifies some options and increases some restrictions regarding restraining students when their behavior is a threat to themselves or others,” said Eugene School District spokesperson Kerry Delf in a phone message. “We’ll be seeking more information to determine how this may affect practices in classrooms.” The district has been looking for ways to better address behavioral challenges in the classroom. In its proposed 2019-2020 school year budget, the district has set aside $1 million specifically for behavior support. The money would go toward hiring a school psychologist and behavior support education assistants to work at multiple schools should the school board approve the budget this month. Other local districts don’t anticipate any change in how they handle behavioral issues as a result of the state’s decision. “Staff already has the ability to restrain a student to prevent harm to themselves or others,” said Amy Tidwell, special services director for Bethel School District in a written statement. “This bill clarifies some elements of the law but likely won’t change how we work with students.” The bill adds definitions of “restraint” against a student and details what is not included in this definition (such as using minimal force to break up a physical fight or holding a student’s hand or arm without force to escort them safely.) It also outlines the prohibited types of restraint on a student such as chemical restraint or holding a child face down on the floor. “I have heard from countless teachers, parents and students about the increasing frequency of these room clears and how troublesome they have become,” said Helt in the release. “I am proud to work with my colleagues across the aisle to bring forward a practical solution for our classrooms.”


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