Home / America / In five states there are no policies on corporal punishment, restraint and seclusion in public schools
A woman whose foster son allegedly died after being pinned down by a teacher in Texas testifies at a Congressional hearing in 2009 examining the abusive and deadly use of seclusion and restraint in schools. (The Atlantic)
A woman whose foster son allegedly died after being pinned down by a teacher in Texas testifies at a Congressional hearing in 2009 examining the abusive and deadly use of seclusion and restraint in schools. (The Atlantic)

In five states there are no policies on corporal punishment, restraint and seclusion in public schools

In a new article at The Atlantic, Mareesa Nicosia examines incidents in public schools where restraint and other punishments have led to serious harm and even death in American public schools.  Advocates in Mississippi are calling for it to become the next state to adopt laws and guidelines for a minimum standard in using restraint as a disciplinary tactic.

State by state, an effort to regulate these tactics and better protect students from potential abuse in their classrooms has slowly gained traction in the last six years, following a 2009 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The collected testimony from schools around the country included the case of a 14-year-old boy in Texas who died after being pinned down by a teacher; another involved a volunteer teacher’s aide in Florida who gagged and duct-taped 6- and 7-year-old students who were misbehaving.

Mississippi is one of the five states that remain without a statewide policy to protect students from cruel and unusual methods of restraint and seclusion by unqualified enforcers.  Reports have been made and lawsuits filed after disruptive children, many of whom have had disabilities, have been locked in file cabinets, strangled, forcibly bound, harnessed or handcuffed by teachers with no training in using these devices safely.  While statistic are scarce, the Office of Civil Rights reports that from 2009-1010, 715 incidents of restraint and seclusion were reported by schools across the state.  In these reports, 72% of the children impacted were black, 28% were white.

Mississippi lawmakers are concerned after Southern Poverty Law Center sued Jackson County Public Schools for chaining disruptive students to objects.

The SPLC alleged that students were “handcuffed and shackled to poles” for up to six hours for non-criminal offenses such as violating the dress code or talking back to a teacher, Reuters reported.

The policy being proposed in Mississippi will define restraint and seclusion, and clarify when, how and for how long these techniques may be used. It also focuses on training teachers in alternative behavioral intervention strategies, prevention, conflict management and safety procedures.

After Mississippi, the other states who have no set of standards, laws, or guidelines for reporting are New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota and Idaho.

Full story in The Atlantic

About Rebecca Lawrence

Rebecca Lawrence is a freelancer in Brooklyn, NY. She is owned by two blind cats. Tweet at her @rebeccalawrence

Check Also

Jason Reed/Reuters

School To Prison Pipeline Thriving: Study Finds That Students Of Color As Young As Preschool Are Consistently Suspended More Than Their White Classmates For Similar Offenses

Civil Rights Data Collection released grim findings Tuesday morning showing a clear racial gap in …