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01/10/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/10/2020 18:09

Senator Lauren Book and Representative DuBose File Bill to Prohibit Seclusion and Restraints for Students with Disabilities

Tallahassee, FL -

This week, Senator Lauren Book (D- Plantation) and Representative Bobby DuBose (D- Fort Lauderdale) filed legislation to prohibit seclusion and provide stricter guidelines for the use of physical restraint for students with disabilities in Florida schools. SB 1644 /HB 1231 also directs school districts to provide video monitoring equipment to any school with a self-contained classroom upon the written request of a parent of a student in the classroom. Sadly, several high profile stories of alleged abuse in Florida's special education classrooms have made headlines over the past several months.

'Students deserve to be safe at school, and parents deserve peace of mind,' says Senator Book. 'While the majority of our special education school professionals provide caring and safe learning environments for students with disabilities, we have unfortunately seen serious abuses committed as well. This bill will ensure students with disabilities are not placed into dangerous situations including seclusion and restraint while in Florida classrooms.'

Since the inception of the reporting system in 2010, there have been 72,019 incidents of restraint and 20,188 incidents of seclusion reported in Florida between 2010 and 2018. These types of incidents can lead to students suffering bleeding or bone fractures, in addition to the psychological trauma of the experience.

'It is our responsibility to protect all children, especially those that cannot speak for or stand up for and protect themselves,' says parent Jason Segelbaum. 'Our son, Max, is non-verbal and like many other special needs children has limited communication abilities, he has no way of letting the adults know when he is being hurt, mistreated or abused. The only way for us to protect our most vulnerable children is to place cameras in their classrooms to be the eyes and ears for them.'

'Children with disabilities are among the most vulnerable members of our society. This bill will assure parents that their child will not experience the unnecessary trauma of being restrained, secluded, or put in another harmful situation by school personnel. School should be a safe environment, where our kids can learn and feel protected,' says House sponsor Representative DuBose.

'Senator Book and Representative Dubose have put forth a great bill. Our students with disabilities are our most vulnerable students and need to learn and grow in a safe setting. This bill is a major step towards achieving that goal and I look forward to supporting it,' says House co-sponsor Representative Ray Rodrigues (R-Fort Myers, FL).