GAO report released yesterday uncovered hundreds of allegations of abuse of schoolchildren
WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a hearing on Capitol Hill today, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told members of the House Education and Labor Committee that he intends to begin monitoring how states are using seclusion and restraint in public schools. Duncan also said he plans to ensure that all states have clear policies in place on seclusion, restraint and other physical interventions that are used in schools for the coming academic year.
A GAO investigation released yesterday at a committee hearing, and conducted at the request of U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the committee’s chairman, uncovered hundreds of allegations of abusive uses of seclusion and restraint practices on schoolchildren over the past two decades. In at least twenty of those cases, this abuse resulted in the death of a child.
Currently, there are no federal laws that govern the use of seclusion and restraint in schools. State regulation and oversight varies greatly; nineteen states have no such laws.
Specifically, Secretary Duncan announced that he is asking all state school chiefs to submit their plans for using seclusion, restraint and other practices for physical intervention in their schools. His announcement came at the beginning of a hearing to discuss the Obama administration’s plans for transforming education in America.
“Children’s safety has to be our number one concern before we begin to think about educating them and doing other things,” saidDuncan. “And as we go into the summer and prepare for next school year I want to make sure that as we go into next school year that every state has a real clear plan as to how to do this in a way that makes sense. And doesn’t jeopardize, doesn’t endanger children.”
To watch the full video of his announcement, click here.
Miller praised the Secretary for taking quick action on a first step toward improving federal oversight. The committee will continue working with GAO and the Obama administration on a comprehensive plan to keep school communities safe.
The Obama administration has indicated it plans to meet with stakeholders about these abuses in the coming weeks.
For more information on yesterday’s hearing, click here.