Archive for Friday, March 4, 2005

Parents call for limiting seclusion policy

Bill proposes specific guidelines for use of ‘time-out’ rooms

March 4, 2005

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— In sometimes emotional testimony, parents told lawmakers on Thursday about instances where their children, suffering from physical and mental disabilities, were improperly treated in school by teachers.

"My son has become the victim of a school system in which at this time has no law, regulations or safeguards in place regarding seclusion and restraints," said Lilly Shipman, of Wichita.

Shipman was among parents, advocates for the disabled and state officials who testified in favor of a bill that would establish guidelines for restraining or isolating special education children for behavioral problems.

Shipman said her 12-year-old son, Kenneth, who is autistic and has Tourette's syndrome, has been put in his school's "time-out" room 334 times this school year alone.

"Please stop the abuse," she asked the Senate Education Committee.

The committee took no action but will continue a hearing on the bill Monday.

Under the measure, schools would be prohibited from using locked rooms or chemical or mechanical restraints. And any potential use of a seclusion room would have to be agreed to by the parent or guardian.

The measure would also encourage the use of positive behavior supports, which are incentives to reward good behavior.

James Bart, of Lawrence, the father of 12-year-old Jacob Bart, who has autism, told the committee that he favored the legislation.

"The bill proposes accountability and guidelines. It makes sense," he said.

Several groups representing Kansans with disabilities and Atty. Gen. Phill Kline's office supported the bill.

But the Kansas Association of Special Education Administrators testified against the proposal, saying that schools have been proactive in efforts to meet the needs of students.

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