Maine Bill Seeks to Prohibit Seclusion, Restraints in Schools
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A bill in the Maine legislature would prohibit the use of seclusion and limit the use of restraints in schools and other educational organizations that receive public funding in Maine, which data shows leads the country in their use.
Some parents spoke out against the proposed ban on Monday saying that when used appropriately, restraints and seclusion allow their children with autism or other disabilities to stay in their classrooms, the Portland Press Herald reported.
Maine restrains more students per capita than any other state, according to an analysis of school data that was done by Disability Rights Maine. The state secludes students at the second highest rate, the group said, adding that about 90% of students who are secluded or restrained have a disability.
The director of a network of schools for children who have some form of autism said losing the ability to restrain or seclude students would put them and staff at risk.
“These students, often the size of grown adults, will often be aggressive to other students and will push, hit, bite, kick, choke other people in their classroom whether they are staff or other students,” said Dr. Michelle Hathaway, director of the Margaret Murphy Center for Children, said at the press conference.
“The trauma of being restrained and secluded in schools can have lasting effects on our students, negatively impacting academic progress and increasing the risk of contact with the juvenile justice system,” said bill sponsor Rep. Rebecca Millett, in a prepared statement.
The bill passed out of the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs and will come before the state Legislature for a vote in the coming weeks, the newspaper reported.