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Congressman Higgins Votes to Approve Landmark Keeping All Students Safe Act

Mar 4, 2010
Press Release

Yesterday, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) voted with his colleagues in the House of Representatives to approve H.R. 4247, the Keeping All Students Safe Act, an historic piece of legislation which provides federal oversight and accountability to protect students.

"Schools should be a sanctuary of learning for our children where they can explore their creativity in a safe environment," said Congressman Higgins.  "This landmark legislation establishes a set of minimum safety standards which give families and communities the peace of mind to know staffers are properly trained and our children are free from harm."

Last year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report that exposed hundreds of allegations that schoolchildren across the country, in both public and private schools, have been abused, due to inappropriate uses of seclusion and restraint, often with a greater frequency on special needs children.

For the first time, the Keeping All Students Safe Act creates minimum safety standards comparable to those in hospitals and other community-based facilities which receive federal funding.  Specifically, it permits physical restrain and locked seclusion only in situations with imminent danger of injury, outlaws any use of mechanical restraints, such as strapping kids to chairs, and prohibits restraints that limit breathing.

The legislation supports states with the resources to adequately train staff and gives them flexibility to create their own laws within two years that either meet or exceed federal standards.  Furthermore, the bill calls for states annually to collect and report data of restraints or seclusion.  Lastly, it keeps the families informed by requiring parental notification of any incidents.

The legislation has the support of nearly 100 organizations, including the National School Boards Association and the American Federation of Teachers.