Monday, February 10, 2014

SENATOR HARKIN RESTRAINT/SECLUSION BROADCAST LIVESTREAM & TWITTER, Wed Feb 12 at 10 am EST


On Wednesday, February 12 at 10:00AM EST, Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, will announce the results of a special Senate investigation of obstacles parents face in trying to keep their children safe from these dangerous practices. The special investigation report focuses on families who have been unable to to address restraint and seclusion under current law when it happened to their children.  He will also discuss recommendations from the report and Senate legislation to prevent the use of restraint and seclusion in school and keep children and staff safe.  Watch and listen to the event at  http://www.senate.gov/isvp/?type=live&comm=help&filename=help021214 Follow the event and news from Senator Harkin about the legislation on twitter @SenatorHarkin

Each year, tens of thousands of students are restrained and forced into seclusion.  They have been killed, suffered broken bones and other injuries, and traumatized.  Students have been restrained and secluded for being unable to do class work, being unable to pay attention due to disability issues, pushing items off desks, having tantrums, convenience, punishment, and similar issues.  

Obstacles to addressing restraint and seclusion are faced by parents every day.  Over 2/3 of states lack laws protecting all students from restraint and seclusion.  Only 14 states by law require that an emergency threatening physical danger exist before restraint can be used for all children; only 11 protect all children from non-emergency seclusion.  Fewer than half of the states require schools to notify all parents when their child is restrained and secluded.  Children have died and been injured and their parents did not know what was happening to them.  http://www.autcom.org/pdf/HowSafeSchoolhouse.pdf 

Watch Senator Harkin on Wednesday, February 12 at 10AM EST, at http://www.help.senate.gov/,  and follow his work to combat restraint and seclusion on twitter @SenatorHarkin

Jessica Butler
Congressional Affairs Coordinator
Autism National Committee (AutCom)
23 years of advocating for children and adults with autism

                                    


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Call Key Senate Committee to Ratify Convention of Rights of People with Disabilities ( CRPD ); Protect People with Disabilities World-Wide

PLEASE CALL THESE KEY SENATORS ON THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE AND ASK THEM TO SUPPORT THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES!  The treaty will come before the committee on Nov. 5 and Nov. 12 for hearings, and so this is the critical week to call!  If it is impossible or very difficult for you to call, please send an email. 
Sen. Bob Corker:   202-224-3344  (Most Important; Senior Republican on the Committee).  If you only have time to make one call, call Senator Corker.
Sen. Jeff Flake: 202-224-4521
Sen. Ron Johnson: 202-224-5323
Sen. Jim Risch: 202-224-2752
Sen. Marco Rubio: 202-224-3041
Sen. Rand Paul: 202-224-4343

Sen. Robert Menendez: 202-224-4744  (Chair; Senior  Majority member)

THEN PLEASE CALL OR EMAIL YOUR OWN SENATORS AND ASK THEM TO VOTE TO RATIFY THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES ( CRPD ). 202-224-3121 or send an email at http://1.usa.gov/Senat  Those who oppose the CRPD are pushing back hard.  The treaty will come up for a hearing on Nov. 5 and Nov. 12 and the Senate needs to hear from you now! Call your Senators and ask them to support for and vote for the Convention!  Protect all people with disabilities world-wide!

Short Sample Message to Your Senator:
You can cut and past this paragraph into an email, if you like or write your own:

Please vote to ratify the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).   Ratifying the CRPD is important so that America can lead the rest of the world to adopt legislation and policies that embrace the rights and dignity of all people with disabilities, just as we have in the United States.  The CRPD will help other countries adopt laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and enpower people with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and inclusion and integration into all aspects of society. Thank you.


More About the CRPD


Ratifying the CRPD is important so that America can lead the rest of the world to adopt legislation and policies that embrace the rights and dignity of all people with disabilities, just as we have in the United States.  The CRPD is designed to bring protections and rights for people with disabilities worldwide.  Of 1 billion people with disabilities, 80% live in developing countries.  Many lack the basic protections we have in America under the ADA, 504, IDEA, and other important laws.  Ratifying the CRPD will allow the United States to take a leadership role in helping these nations craft similar laws. The CRPD has bipartisan support, including Senator Tom Harkin, Former Senator Bob Dole, President George H.W. Bush, and Attorney General Dick Thornburgh.


Ratifying the CRPD means that America can advocate through the treaty process for the same basic principles worldwide that we all advocate for—the same rights in the ADA, 504, IDEA, etc.   Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms for All.  Full Inclusion in Society.  End Discrimination against People with Disabilities. Universally-Designed Goods, Services, and Equipment.  Use of Assistive Technology, Augmentative Communications, Braille, Sign Language, and Other Necessary Devices and Supports.  Increase Accessibility.  End the Exclusion of Students with Disabilities from General Education or Free Education.  Seek “An Inclusive, Quality and Free Primary Education and Secondary Education [for Children with Disabilities] on an Equal Basis with Others in The Communities in Which They Live.”  “Reasonable Accommodations” and Supports to Obtain Employment, an Effective Education and Inclusion in Society.  End Abuse, Torture, and Mistreatment of People with Disabilities.  You can read the full treaty here.

Autism occurs throughout the world in people of all racial, ethnic and social backgrounds.  But some foreign countries do not recognize the existence of autism.  In those countries, people with autism may get no supports. They may be wrongly diagnosed with disorders they do not have.  They may be assumed incapable of learning and working.  They may be institutionalized, kept away from their families and communities.  Ratifying the CRPD will enable the United States ensure that citizens of these countries who have autism are integrated in society and receive rights like those the Americans with Disabilities Act created for our country.

The CRPD will protect Americans with disabilities who work and travel abroad.  These Americans face constant barriers and discrimination abroad. By ratifying the CRPD, the U.S. will offer decades of honed technical expertise to reduce barriers globally and ensure that Americans who travel and study abroad have the same access they enjoy here.
  
The CRPD will not cost the United States any extra money.  The United States will not need to change its laws.  We will continue to follow the laws we have about disabilities and other issues at the federal and state levels.   Education, homeschooling, and parental rights will remain a matter of state law--the treaty will not change those rights at all.  The treaty ratification documents contain "reservations" that protect these issues for state law.  Some people think that the CPRD will somehow affect America's homeschooling laws, but it won't.  Homeschooling will still be subject to state laws and those state laws won't be changed by the CPRD (and cannot be changed by the CPRD).  You can continue to homeschool just like you always do. 

For the CRPD to be ratified by the United States, it must be approved by the U.S. Senate. This means that 67 Senators (2/3 of the Senate) must vote in favor.  It is important that every Senator be contacted and asked to vote for ratification.

The CRPD has been scheduled for hearings on November 5 and November 12.  After that, the entire Senate can consider it.  That's why its important for you to contact your Senators and ask them to support the CPRD.  Contact your Senators' office (preferably by phone call) and ask them to support the CRPD! Please tell your Senator's staff, “I am a constituent from your state and I support the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Please support the Convention when it comes up for a vote. The CRPD is in the United States’ interests. It protects our citizens and veterans abroad, and it is vital to achieving the same goals as our disability laws, the ADA and many others.” 

Calling Senators is best because they know it takes a more effort than copying and pasting an email. So, they count it more.  But we recognize that some people cannot call, due to a disability or for another reason.  In that case, please email. If you can ask a friend to call, that will help too.


Thank You,
The Autism National Committee



Sunday, August 4, 2013

My State's Restraint and Seclusion Law's (look up your state policies and laws on restraint and seclusion)

Announcing a new publication:  My State’s Seclusion & Restraint Laws: Brief Summaries Of State Seclusion And Restraint Laws And Policies (August 4, 2013).

Several people have asked for a report that simply gives a brief summary of each state's restraint and seclusion laws ( statutes and regulations ) and policies.  This will let people look up the law in their state.  This new publication, My State’s Seclusion & Restraint Laws, by Jessica Butler, does that.  It is a short PDF publication, and has been bookmarked for each state.  There is a brief national overview at the beginning.  You can still find more detailed information, including comparisons and analyses of state practices, and illustrative maps and comparison charts for all states, in How Safe is the Schoolhouse? An Analysis of State Restraint and Seclusion Laws, available at www.autcom.org.

The two reports differ as follows.  How Safe is the Schoolhouse: An Analysis of State Restraint and Seclusion Laws categorizes each state's seclusion and restraint laws and policies down by topic area, such as limits on using restraint, limits on using seclusion, prohibitions on particularly dangerous restraints, parental notification, and many others.  States are grouped together so you can easily see which states have the same or similar practices.  There is a detailed analysis and maps and charts for various factors.  Page 106 of How Safe contained a description of each state's laws on a state-by-state basis, but this was difficult to find.  My State's Seclusion and Restraint Laws is shorter.  It lets you look up a state and see a summary of the major elements of its restraint and seclusion policy.   It also has a brief overview of the entire nation at the beginning. You can find the link here: http://bit.ly/MyStateRSlaw   My State will soon be on the autcom webpage (www.autcom.org, but you can use this link for now).


  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

ASK REPRESENTATIVE: VOTE NO ON H.R. 5; STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES DESERVE THE RIGHT TO EARN A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA

CALL REPRESENTATIVE: VOTE NO TO H.R. 5; STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES DESERVE THE RIGHT TO EARN A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA

Please call your Congressional Representative (202-224-3121) and ask him/her  to vote against H.R. 5, which is called "The Student Success Act."  The bill weakens the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and allows schools to provide poor quality educations to children with disabilities with no accountability.  The bill allows schools to take millions of students with disabilities off track for a regular high school diploma as early as 3rd grade when assessment decisions are made in schools. 

If you cannot call, then send an email.  Go to http://www.house.gov/ .  In the upper right corner is a map where you can put in your zip code and find your representative to send an email.  PLEASE CALL IF YOU CAN.  THE BILL IS COMING UP FOR A VOTE ON FRIDAY, JULY 19 AND CONGRESS NEEDS TO HEAR FROM YOU! 


HOW H.R. 5 HARMS STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES:
The Student Success Act (H.R. 5) will let schools discriminate against students with disabilities by taking them off track to graduate high school and be college and career ready.  It will slash academic expectations for students with disabilities, allowing schools to provide a poor and inadequate education with no accountability.  HR 5 will eliminate performance targets for most schools and eliminate accountability that is important to ensure quality educations for students with disabilities and other historically underserved populations.  Please support the future of all students with disabilities and vote against the bill.  Please support the substitute offered by Congressman George Miller instead, which includes performance targets and accountability for all students, and protects students with disabilities from unlimited alternate assessments.

Under current law, schools must teach students with disabilities the same challenging curriculum as everyone else. As a result, the law ensures that students with disabilities learn at grade level.  The law also is designed to ensure when students fall behind that schools must give them the extra support they need.  Only students with the most significant cognitive disabilities are supposed to take an alternate assessment on alternate achievement standards.  The law allows this alternate assessment for up to 1% of all students (10% of students with disabilities).  The Miller substitute would continue the 1% cap. 

But H.R. 5 bill would change all of this.  It would allow schools to give as many students as they wish the alternate assessments by lifting the 1% cap.  In reality, schools could provide vastly inferior educations. Under H.R. 5 no one would be accountable for making sure that students actually learn what they need to graduate and succeed.  If a child struggles to read, the school could simply use the weaker alternative assessment, rather than teach the child to read proficiently.  Rather than continuing to support students with disabilities in achieving a high school diploma and pursuing employment and postsecondary education, the lack of a cap on the use of the assessment virtually encourages schools to expect less from students with disabilities. This will jeopardize their true potential to learn and achieve.  The bill would let schools to take millions of students with disabilities off track for a regular high school diploma as early as 3rd grade when assessment decisions are made in schools.  This will relegate them to lower career and college expectations—simply because they receive special education services. 


The existing cap of 1% supports current practice and ongoing research into assessing students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.  This is the cap in current regulation and it would be continued under the Miller substitute amendment.  To ignore this data by eliminating the cap would violate the rights of students who do not have the most significant cognitive disabilities and who should not be assessed on alternate standards. As data and student/family experience show, the decision to place a student in the alternate assessment on alternate achievement standards can take students off track for a regular diploma as early as elementary school. These limitations raise concerns for many students who are currently placed in these assessments. The problem would grow if the cap were eliminated. 

H.R. 5 also eliminates accountability for students with disabilities and other students from historically underserved populations.   Instead of requiring schools to meet performance targets set by their states, it eliminates accountability all together.  It is important that Congress establish performance targets and accountability requirements for all schools, and that Congress require that schools intervene when students are not making appropriate progress.  High school graduation rates for students with disabilities are below 66 percent in 30 states.  Schools must take action to address gaps in academic performance for all students and require all subgroups, including students with disabilities, to make annual progress towards performance targets and achievement goals.  In addition, HR 5 will cut funding for educational programs very significantly.  This harms all students, including students with disabilities.  Schools will look for ways to cut costs when their funding is cut, and it become all too easy to do it by failing to provide students with disabilities the education that they need.  Instead, those students will be given the alternate assessments, which enables schools to gloss over these problems.  

H.R. 5:
  •  Allows States and school districts to officially marginalize every student with a disability (and their academic potential), and expect less of them by virtue of having a disability
  • .
  • Fails to impose performance targets and accountability standards that ensure that schools work to improve education for all students
  • INCORRECTLY promotes that most students with disabilities can’t learn or achieve when most students with disabilities are able to learn and achieve, just like all other students, when provided appropriate services and supports.
  • Promotes abuse and overuse of alternate assessments by allowing any student with a disability to be tested through these assessments.
  • Will turn back the clock on advances made in educating students with disabilities in the past 10 years:
           --Most students with disabilities taking the general state assessment
           --Improved results in reading and math
           --Increased graduation from high school and higher college attendance rates
 

HOW TO CONTACT CONGRESS:  Please call your Congressional Representative (202-224-3121) and ask him/her  to vote against H.R. 5, which is called "The Student Success Act."  If you cannot call, then send an email.  Go to http://www.house.gov/ .  In the upper right corner is a map where you can put in your zip code and find your representative to send an email.  PLEASE CALL IF YOU CAN. THE BILL IS COMING UP FOR A VOTE ON FRIDAY, JULY 19 AND CONGRESS NEEDS TO HEAR FROM YOU! 

THANK YOU.
THE AUTISM NATIONAL COMMITTEE




 

Friday, July 12, 2013

TELL REPRESENTATIVE: VOTE NO TO H.R. 5; STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES DESERVE THE RIGHT TO EARN A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA

TELL REPRESENTATIVE: VOTE NO TO H.R. 5; STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES DESERVE THE RIGHT TO EARN A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA

Please call your Congressional Representative (202-224-3121) and ask him/her  to vote against H.R. 5, which is called "The Student Success Act."  The bill weakens the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and allows schools to provide poor quality educations to children with disabilities with no accountability.  The bill allows schools to take millions of students with disabilities off track for a regular high school diploma as early as 3rd grade when assessment decisions are made in schools. 

If you cannot call, then send an email.  Go to http://www.house.gov/ .  In the upper right corner is a map where you can put in your zip code and find your representative to send an email.  PLEASE CALL IF YOU CAN.  THE BILL IS COMING UP FOR A VOTE NEXT WEEK AND CONGRESS NEEDS TO HEAR FROM YOU!


HOW H.R. 5 HARMS STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES:
The Student Success Act (H.R. 5) will let schools discriminate against students with disabilities by taking them off track to graduate high school and be college and career ready.  It will slash academic expectations for students with disabilities, allowing schools to provide a poor and inadequate education with no accountability.  Please support the future of all students with disabilities and vote against the bill.  

Under current law, schools must teach students with disabilities the same challenging curriculum as everyone else. As a result, the law ensures that students with disabilities learn at grade level.  The law also is designed to ensure when students fall behind that schools must give them the extra support they need.  Only students with the most significant cognitive disabilities are supposed to take an alternate assessment on alternate achievement standards.  The law allows this alternate assessment for up to 1% of all students (10% of students with disabilities). 

But H.R. 5 bill would change all of this.  It would allow schools to give as many students as they wish the alternate assessments by lifting the 1% cap.  In reality, schools could provide vastly inferior educations. Under H.R. 5 no one would be accountable for making sure that students actually learn what they need to graduate and succeed.  If a child struggles to read, the school could simply use the weaker alternative assessment, rather than teach the child to read proficiently.  
Rather than continuing to support students with disabilities in achieving a high school diploma and pursuing employment and postsecondary education, the lack of a cap on the use of the assessment virtually encourages schools to expect less from students with disabilities. This will jeopardize their true potential to learn and achieve.  The bill allows schools to take millions of students with disabilities off track for a regular high school diploma as early as 3rd grade when assessment decisions are made in schools.  This will relegate them to lower career and college expectations—simply because they receive special education services. 


The existing cap of 1% supports current practice and ongoing research into assessing students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.  To ignore this data by eliminating the cap would violate the rights of students who do not have the most significant cognitive disabilities and who should not be assessed on alternate standards. As data and student/family experience show, the decision to place a student in the alternate assessment on alternate achievement standards can take students off track for a regular diploma as early as elementary school. These limitations raise concerns for many students who are currently placed in these assessments. The problem would grow if the cap were eliminated. 


H.R. 5:
  •  Allows States and school districts to officially marginalize every student with a disability (and their academic potential), and expect less of them by virtue of having a disability.


  • INCORRECTLY promotes that most students with disabilities can’t learn or achieve when most students with disabilities are able to learn and achieve, just like all other students, when provided appropriate services and supports.


  • Promotes abuse and overuse of alternate assessments by allowing any student with a disability to be tested through these assessments.


  • Will turn back the clock on advances made in educating students with disabilities in the past 10 years:

           --Most students with disabilities taking the general state assessment
           --Improved results in reading and math
           --Increased graduation from high school and higher college attendance rates

HOW TO CONTACT CONGRESS:  Please call your Congressional Representative (202-224-3121) and ask him/her  to vote against H.R. 5, which is called "The Student Success Act."  If you cannot call, then send an email.  Go to http://www.house.gov/ .  In the upper right corner is a map where you can put in your zip code and find your representative to send an email.  PLEASE CALL IF YOU CAN.  THE BILL IS COMING UP FOR A VOTE NEXT WEEK AND CONGRESS NEEDS TO HEAR FROM YOU!

THANK YOU.
THE AUTISM NATIONAL COMMITTEE




 



Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ask the Senate to Support the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Please ask the Senate to take the first steps in ratifying the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, an international treaty to bring the rest of the world up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards and protect American travelers abroad!  Unfortunately, ill-informed opponents of the treaty are pushing back hard.  So, this week, June 24-27, please do these two things to help.

1.  Ask the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to hold hearings on the treaty.  Call Call Senator Menendez (D-NJ), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 202-224-4744 and Call Senator Corker (R-TN), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 202-224-3344.  (call them even if you don't live in NJ or TN).

Ask their staffs:  "Please hold a hearing on the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.  The CRPD is based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  It will enable people with disabilities around the world to economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and inclusion in all aspects of society.   It will help Americans with disabilities who travel abroad to have accessibility and inclusion.  It will help America continue to be a world leader on disability issues.  It will not cost any extra money or change any U.S. federal or state laws.  Americans will continue to follow the ADA and their state laws on issues like education and parental rights."  

2.  PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATORS AND ASK THEM TO SUPPORT RATIFYING THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES. 202-224-3121.   Or send an email by going to http://1.usa.gov/Senat

Ask them to do this: "Please support the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.  The CRPD is modeled on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The CRPD is based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  It will enable people with disabilities around the world to economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and inclusion in all aspects of society.   It will help Americans with disabilities who travel abroad to have accessibility and inclusion.  It will help America continue to be a world leader on disability issues.  It will not cost any extra money or change any U.S. federal or state laws.  Americans will continue to follow the ADA and their state laws on issues like education and parental rights."  


NEED MORE INFORMATION?  SEE BELOW.

WHY SUPPORT THE CRPD? 

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is an international disability treaty.  It is a vital framework for creating legislation and policies worldwide to embrace the rights and dignity of all people with disabilities.  The CRPD was modeled on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and its role in empowering people with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and inclusion and integration into all aspects of society. 

  • The CRPD will protect Americans with disabilities who work and travel abroad.  4 out of 10 American travelers are estimated to be people with disabilities and their companions.  Yet, they face constant barriers and discrimination abroad. Students with disabilities represent less than 4% of students who travel or study abroad.  By ratifying the CRPD, the U.S. will offer decades of honed technical expertise to reduce barriers globally and ensure that Americans who travel and study abroad have the same access they enjoy here. 
  • Being part of the CRPD process will enable America to provide leadership in bringing the rest of the world up to ADA Standards.  It encourages other countries to provide greater civic and political participation, self-sufficiency, and independent living for people with disabilities. By ratifying the treaty, America will be able to lead other countries to fight disability discrimination and adopt models like the Americans with Disabilities Act.    
  • The CRPD  will benefit American business interests abroad.  It will give the U.S. a role in holding other countries to the level of accessibility required in the U.S. by the ADA.   Many accessible products are engineered, manufactured, or sold by U.S. corporations that can meet the new demands for the world’s population of 1 billion peop le with disabilities. An active role in CRPD implementation by the U.S. enhances U.S. businesses' ability reach these emerging new sources of revenue. 
  • The CRPD won't cost the United States a single cent.  We won't have to change any American laws, either.  In the United States, we will continue to follow the laws we have about disabilities, federal and state laws, just as we always do.   Some claim the treaty would interfere with U.S. homeschooling rights or how parents make decisions for their children.  This is not true.  Americans will continue to follow the same laws they do today.  Education, homeschooling, and parental rights will remain a matter of state law--the treaty will not change those rights at all.  There are specific "reservation" clauses on the treaty ratification documents that state that Americans will continue to follow our own existing laws.   
  • U.S Ratification of the CRPD Has Strong Bipartisan Support.   Republican leaders of disability legislation support ratification of the CRPD including former President George H.W. Bush, former Senator Bob Dole,  and former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh.It alsmost passed the entire Senate last time!  You can read Bob Dole's and Tony Coehlo's joint editorial urging support, "Why we must ratify world rights of disabled" here.

WHAT YOU CAN DO!
 For the CRPD to be ratified by the United States, it must be approved by the U.S. Senate. This means that 67 Senators (2/3 of the Senate) must vote in favor.  On December 4, 2012 the United States Senate considered the ratification of the CRPD but fell 5 votes short of the super-majority vote required (ratification of a treaty requires a 2/3 vote of the U.S. Senate). Now, in 2013, we want to bring the CRPD back to the Senate and ratify it this time!!!

First, call Senators Menendez and Corker as noted above.

Second, contact your own Senators and ask them to support the treaty.  You can call the general Senate switchboard at 202-224-3121 (TTY (202)-225-1904), and ask for your Senator. If you cannot call, send an email.  All Senate email forms and direct dial phone numbers are here http://1.usa.gov/Senat

Thank You,
The Autism National Committee


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

200+ Organizations ask House to Include Restraint & Seclusion in Elementary Secondary Education Act (ESEA)


      


June 17, 2013

The Honorable George Miller
Ranking Member
Education & the Workforce Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515


Re:         Over 200 National, State, and Local Organizations Ask Congress to
               Protect  Schoolchildren from Dangerous Restraint & Seclusion
In the House of Representatives’ Student Success Act \
(Elementary Secondary Education Act)

Dear Representatives Kline and Miller,

We, the undersigned, thank Congressman Miller for his proposed substitute bill which would include the Keeping All Students Safe Act in the Student Success Act.  This is the House amendment of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  In 2009, a Government Accountability Office study found that children were injured, traumatized, and even killed through restraint and seclusion in schools.  The GAO even documented 20 deaths of school children.  It is vital that protections against restraint and seclusion be included in ESEA.  We are deeply concerned that such protections are not included in the Majority bill, the Student Success Act (H.R.5), introduced by Chairman Kline.  Instead, the Majority bill would continue the current dangerous patchwork of protections across this country.  We urge the House Education and Workforce Committee to adopt Congressman Miller’s amendment, and make the Keeping All Students Safe Act part of ESEA .



It is time for a national policy addressing restraint and seclusion.  In March 2012, the Civil Rights Data Collection showed that nearly 40,000 students were physically restrained during the 2009-10 school year.  The data also showed that restraint and seclusion are disproportionately used upon students with disabilities and minority students.   

The Keeping All Students Safe Act will promote a shift toward preventing problematic behavior through the use of de-escalation techniques, conflict management and evidence-based positive behavioral interventions and supports. This shift will help school personnel understand the needs of their students and safely address the source of challenging behaviors – a better result for everyone in the classroom.  In many cases, the use of positive supports and interventions greatly diminishes and even eliminates the need to use restraint and seclusion. For example, the Centennial School in Pennsylvania, which serves children in 35 school districts, has cut the use of restraint and seclusion from well over 1,000 occurrences per year to less than ten through the use of positive supports. Reports and studies have also shown that students and staff are safer when positive interventions and supports, rather than restraint and seclusion, are used in schools. Worker's Compensation costs even decrease significantly.

Congressman Miller’s Keeping All Students Safe Act will protect all children in school. It will ensure that restraint and seclusion are used only in emergencies posing an imminent threat of physical danger. Fewer than 20 states provide such protections for all children.  If less restrictive and dangerous measures like de-escalation, conflict management, and positive behavioral supports would prevent the threat, the bill will require that they be used. The bill would require that schools take steps to notify parents within 24 hours, and follow up in writing.  Today, more than half the states do not have laws requiring that parents of all children be informed when their child is subjected to these procedures.  Prompt notification is important so parents can seek needed medical attention.  The bill will ban the use of restraints that impede breathing or harm children or staff.  It will ban dangerous mechanical and chemical restraints.  The bill will ban the use of aversives that threaten health and safety.  The bill will ensure that staff are properly trained in evidence-based methods to minimize the use of restraint and seclusion and to protect children and staff.  Finally, the bill will require collection of data to better inform decision-making and provide needed transparency to allow public oversight. 

We again thank Congressman Miller for including these vital protections in his proposed amendment to ESEA. We ask the House Education and Workforce Committee to include the Keeping All Students Safe Act in its amendment of ESEA.  We are very concerned because the Majority bill (H.R. 5) does not do so.  For too many children, protection from restraint and seclusion will continue to depend on the state in which they live.  America needs more than the current patchwork of state laws to ensure that every child is safe and in a positive environment.  

For more information about this letter, please contact Jessica Butler, Congressional Affairs Coordinator, Autism National Committee, jessica@jnba.net (www.autcom.org).

Signed By Over 200 National, State, and Local Organizations

Over 50 National Organizations
Advocacy Institute
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry
American Association on Health and Disability
American Psychiatric Association
American Psychiatric Nurses Association
Association of University Centers on Disabilities
Association on Higher Education And Disability (AHEAD)
Autism National Committee
Autism Society of America
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Boat People SOS, Inc.
Center for Law and Education
Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf
Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders (CCBD)
Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc.
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
Disability Rights Legal Center
Dup15q Alliance, Inc.
Exceptional Parent
Families Against Restraint and Seclusion
Family Network on Disabilities
Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
Gray Panthers
Higher Education Consortium for Special Education
Mental Health America
National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Disorders
National Autism Association
National Center on Learning Disabilities (NCLD)
National Disability Rights Network
National Down Syndrome Society
National Down Syndrome Congress
National Empowerment Center
National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health
National Fragile X Foundation
National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND)
National Organization for Women Foundation
OurChildrenLeftBehind.Com
Pacer Center
Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education, Inc.
Pediatric Stroke Network, Inc.
Prader-Willi Syndrome Association (USA)
Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) Board
Southern Poverty Law Center



Specialized Training Of Military Parents (STOMP)
TASH
Teacher Education Division of the Council on Exceptional Children
The Arc of the United States
The National Alliance on Mental Illness
The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL)
The William Kellibrew Foundation
United Cerebral Palsy
Witness Justice
Wrightslaw

Over 150  State and Local Organizations
California Association for Parent-Child Advocacy (CAPCA)
CA
Disability Rights California
CA
Families For Early Autism Treatment
CA
Educate. Advocate.
CA
Independent Living Resource Center, Inc.
CA
Colorado Cross Disability Coalition
CO
The Arc of Colorado
CO
Arc Thriftstores of Colorado
CO
Community Link
CO
CP of Colorado
CO
Easter Seals of Colorado
CO
Family Voices Colorado
CO
Mental Health America of Colorado
CO
Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Association
CO
AdvocacyDenver
CO
The Arc of Aurora (CO)
CO
The Arc of the Pikes Peak Region
CO
Connecticut Parent Advocacy Center
CT
Connecticut Parent's Union
CT
SpEd Connecticut, Inc.
CT
Autism Spectrum Differences Institute of New England, Inc.
CT
CT Families for Effective Autism Treatment (CTFEAT)
CT
Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities
CT
Advocates for Justice and Education
DC
Delaware Developmental Disabilities Council
DE



Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens
DE
Southern Legal Counsel, Inc.
FL
Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County
FL
Center for Independent Living of South Florida, Inc.
FL
disAbility Solutions for Independent Living
FL
Reveresco ABA Therapy
FL
Parent to Parent of Georgia
GA
The Arc of Georgia
GA
Autism Society Georgia Chapter
GA
Georgia Families Against Restraint and Seclusion
GA
Gwinnett SToPP
GA
Apraxia in Metro Atlanta
GA
Living Independence for Everyone (LIFE), Inc.
GA
Autism Society of Hawaii
HI
Hawai'i Parents Special Education Advisory Council (HIP-SEAC)
HI
Autism Bridges of Maui
HI
Disability Rights Iowa
IA
Iowa School Social Work Association
IA
Tri State Down Syndrome Network
IA
Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership
IL
Mental Health Summit of Illinois
IL
Illinois School Counselor Association
IL
Mental Health America of Illinois
IL
Autism Society of Illinois
IL
LIFE Center for Independent Living
IL
Mothers on a Mission, Inc.
IL
Special Kids, Special Families
IL
The Arc of Indiana
IN
Disability Rights Center of Kansas
KS
The Arc of Kentucky
KY
Kentucky Protection & Advocacy
KY
Disability Law Center (of Massachusetts)
MA
The Arc of Massachusetts
MA
Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee Massachusetts
MA
Lichtenstein Creative Media, Inc.
MA
LDA of St. Mary's County
MD
Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education
MD
Maryland Disability Law Center
MD
Maryland Education Advocacy Coalition for Students with Disabilities
MD



The Arc of Maryland
MD
Parent Advocacy Network for Differently-Abled
MD
Maine Developmental Disabilities Council
ME
Disability Rights Center Maine
ME
Maine Parent Federation, Inc.
ME
Michigan Alliance for Special Education
MI
Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards
MI
Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council
MI
Michigan Disability Rights Coalition
MI
The Arc Michigan
MI
The Arc of Northwest Wayne County
MI
The Respect ABILITY Law Center
MI
Autism Society of Minnesota
MN
Minnesota Disability Law Center/Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid
MN
Minnesota State Council on Disability
MN
The Arc Minnesota
MN
Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council
MO
Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis
MO
The Arc of Mississippi
MS
Disability Rights Mississippi
MS
Just Advocacy of Mississippi
MS
Mississippi Center for Justice
MS
Mississippi Families as Allies
MS
Mississippi Psychiatric Association
MS
Parents United Together
MS
ADAPT Montana
MT
Parents, Let's Unite for Kids - PLUK
MT
Disability Rights North Carolina
NC
Council for Children's Rights
NC
Monarch/The Arc of Stanly County
NC
Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities
NC
The Arc of Davidson County, North Carolina
NC
Education Law Center
NJ
Statewide Parent Advocacy Network
NJ
Disability Rights New Jersey
NJ
The Arc of New Jersey
NJ
Epilepsy Foundation of New Jersey
NJ



Learning Disabilities Association of New Jersey
NJ
New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, Inc.
NJ
New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education, Inc.
NJ
New Jersey Special Education Practitioners
NJ
New Jersey PTA
NJ
NJ Association of School Psychologists (NJASP)
NJ
Autism Family Services of New Jersey
NJ
Special Education Leadership Council of NJ
NJ
Total Living Center, Inc.
NJ
Advocacy for Children with dis-Abilities
NM
Pegasus Legal Services for Children
NM
Northern Nevada Autism Network
NV
The Center for Self Determination
NV
New York State Independent Living Council
NY
Everyone Reading, Inc.
NY
Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley Inc. (ILCHV)
NY
Independent Living Inc.
NY
Jonathan Carey Foundation
NY
NYSARC
NY
Southern Tier ADAPT
NY
Southern Tier Independence Center
NY
The Arc of Ohio
OH
The Arc of Pennsylvania
PA
Rhode Island Parent Information Network
RI
Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities - South Carolina
SC
The Arc of South Carolina
SC
The Arc of Pickens County, SC
SC
The Arc of Coastal Carolina
SC
Camp T.A.L.K.
SC
The Arc Tennessee
TN
The Arc of Davidson County, Tennessee
TN
Texas Network of Youth Services
TX
DFW Interfaith Coffee House
TX
Special Needs Resource Project
UT
The Arc of Virginia
VA
Endependence Center, Inc.
VA
Legal Aid Justice Center, JustChildren Program
VA
Virginia Association of Centers for Independent Living
VA
The Arc of Central Virginia
VA
The Arc of Northern Virginia
VA
The Arc of Augusta
VA
Autism  Society of Northern Virginia
VA
Autism Society of Central Virginia
VA
disAbility Resource Center


VA
PELE Special Education Advocacy Clinic, William & Mary Law School
VA
Down Syndrome Association of Greater Richmond
VA
Medical Home Plus, Inc.
VA
Disability Law Project of Vermont Legal Aid, Inc.
VT
The Vermont Coalition for Disability Rights
VT
Disability Rights Vermont
VT
PAVE – Partnerships for Action, Voices for Empowerment
WA
Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council
WA
Autism Society of Washington
WA
Wisconsin Family Assistance Center for Education, Training and
     Support, Inc. (WI FACETS)
WI
Parents Helping Parents of WY, Inc
WY

For more information about this letter, contact Jessica Butler, Autism National Committee, jessica@jnba.net