Press Release
Senator Kevin O'Toole Senator Kevin O'Toole (R-40)
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Contact: Senate Republicans / (609) 847-3600
January 11, 2016
O’Toole Legislation Addressing the Unsafe Restraint of Students with Disabilities Passes Senate

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The New Jersey Senate has approved legislation sponsored by Senator Kevin O’Toole (R-Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic) to address several reported issues regarding the unsafe restraint of special education students, as depicted in a series of investigative reports by News 12 New Jersey’s “Kane in Your Corner.”

Click here to watch the video.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the dangerous and sometimes deadly practice of prone restraint that some students with disabilities have been subjected to,” said O’Toole. “We owe it to the children to ensure that physical restraints are conducted safely when necessary, and to be transparent with parents whenever they occur.”

Under the legislation, S-2266:

  • the prone restraint* of a student with disabilities would be prohibited unless authorized by the student’s primary care physician;
  • staff members involved in the physical restraint of students would be required to receive training on safe restraint techniques annually; and
  • the parents or guardians of a student must be notified immediately when the student is subject to physical restraint.

Additionally, the legislation was amended to address the safe seclusion of a student who is involuntarily confined alone in a room or area from which they are physically prevented from leaving, to ensure that the seclusion of a student with disabilities occurs only with the prior written consent of the student’s primary care physician.

As amended, the legislation requires the Department of Education to collect and publish data on its website annually regarding the use of physical restraints and seclusion from school districts and private schools for students with disabilities.

“The sometimes abusive practices of physical restraint and seclusion of students with disabilities have been shrouded in secrecy for too long,” added O’Toole. “Schools must be honest with parents and the public about when and why these events occur, and ensure that the techniques employed are safe and medically advised.”

*The child is forced face down while his or her arms and legs are pinned behind them; an immobilizing technique that is known to compress the diaphragm to the point where it could smother a person.

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