Attorney General Tong Urges Federal Passage of the Keeping All Students Safe Act

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Attorney General Tong urges the federal government to pass the Law on the Safety of All Students

(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong today joined a coalition of 17 attorney general led by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul in calling on Congress to pass the Student Safety Act (KASSA), which it any school receiving federal funding prohibits seclusion or use of dangerous restraint practices.

In today’s letter to Congress officials, the coalition argues that isolated detention and the restraint practices banned by KASSA are inherently dangerous behavioral interventions that can exacerbate existing mental illness and cause emotional trauma, serious physical injury, and even the death of teenagers in schools .

“Schools should be a safe environment in which no student will fear abuse or exposure to practices that endanger his or her emotional or physical well-being.” Attorney General Tong said. “Congress needs to pass these laws to ensure that school districts that receive federal funding protect their students.”

Although seclusion and restraint are intended as a last resort, the coalition states that they are sometimes imposed when there is no imminent threat of serious physical harm, to punish or discipline students, enforce compliance, or retaliate for noncompliance or the convenience of employees . Reports have found that every year thousands of children, some as young as five years old, are locked alone in empty rooms because they sometimes misbehaved for hours, committing such minor violations as spilling milk or refusing to do so have to work in class. Similarly, children have been reported to have been physically restrained in a way that restricts their breathing or otherwise harms them.

As part of the KASSA, any school that receives federal funding is prohibited from excluding children or using mechanical, chemical, or physical restraint practices that are life-threatening or restrict breathing, including abdominal and back restrictions. Recognizing the disproportionate use of these interventions among disabled students, the bill also prohibits the use of physical restraint that is contraindicated by a student’s disability or educational plan.

States must implement the law by collecting and analyzing data, establishing policies and procedures to ensure compliance, and improving the school climate and culture by providing interventions and support for positive behavior. The bill supports states by approving federal grants, which are awarded for a period of three years as required. In addition, federal funds could be withheld from school systems that violate the law in order to hold those school systems accountable and to ensure student protection.

Raoul and Tong include attorneys general of the District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Twitter: @AGWilliamTong Facebook: CT Attorney General

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