National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Support Legislation to End the Abusive and Deadly Use of Restraint and Seclusion in America’s Schools

On December 9, 2009, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA) and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) introduced The Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (HR 4247) in the House.  Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) introduced similar legislation in the Senate (S. 2860).  NAMI applauds these federal legislative leaders for their commitment to protecting children and to ending the inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion in our nation’s schools.

The inappropriate and harmful use of restraint and seclusion has disproportionately impacted students with disabilities, including those with mental illness.  This legislation is long overdue and is vitally important to protect the health and well-being of students with mental illness. 

The federal legislation contains a number of provisions that prevent the inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion by establishing minimum safety standards in schools in a number of areas, including the following:

  • Restricting the use of restraint and seclusion to cases in which there is imminent danger of injury to the student, school personnel or others, and restricting use to trained staff;
  • Prohibiting the use of mechanical restraints, chemical restraints, physical restraints or escorting that restricts breathing and aversive behavioral interventions that compromise health and safety;
  • Requiring school personnel to continually monitor students placed in restraint or seclusion;
  • Requiring that the use of seclusion or restraint end as soon as the imminent danger ends;
  • Notifying parents or other family members immediately after an incident involving restraint and seclusion.

The legislation also requires states to develop their own policies, procedures, monitoring and enforcement systems related to the use of restraint and seclusion.  They must also collect and report data annually to the U.S. Secretary of Education.

You can learn more about this legislation by visiting the Committee on Education & Labor Web site.


We need your help to get this vitally important legislation enacted early in 2010.  Please contact your Representatives in the House to ask them to co-sponsor House Bill H.R. 4247 and your Senators to co-sponsor Senate Bill S. 2860.  Call them by using the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and email them by using NAMI's Legislative Action Center.  Urge them to co-sponsor The Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act.   Thank you!