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Another Giant Step Forward for America's Children

Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy, discusses the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act.

Nearly seven months ago, approximately 50 disability advocates, representatives of national teacher organizations, other education professionals and Administration officials gathered at the White House to discuss restraint and seclusion in schools. President Obama and his Administration are committed to ensuring that every child learns in a safe and secure school environment. Improper use of restraint and seclusion techniques to subdue children deemed by teachers as unruly or otherwise disruptive disproportionately affects children with disabilities, many of whom fall victim to instructors and care-givers who lack proper training. 

The Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act, introduced by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and Senator Chris Dodd, will protect all children from harmful and improper types of restraint and seclusion. We applaud Senator Dodd, Chairman Miller, and Representative McMorris Rodgers for their hard work and their commitment to protecting children.  

Working in collaboration with these members of Congress, President Obama's Administration is committed to ending harmful restraint and seclusion. On July 31, after Congressional hearings on the subject, Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote to all Chief State School Officers, urging them to review their current policies and guidelines regarding the use of restraint and seclusion techniques in schools and, if appropriate, develop or revise them to ensure student safety

On Tuesday, Secretary Duncan wrote to Senator Dodd, Chairman Miller and Representative McMorris Rodgers, applauding them for identifying key legislative principles and committing to work with Congress. Secretary Duncan's recommendations align well with the legislation they have introduced, and provide an important blueprint for the Administration, Congress and advocates to work together to protect America's children.

This much-needed legislation illustrates that, when we work together to find common ground, we can overcome any hurdle. We look forward to working with Congress, advocates, teachers, and education professionals to ensure that all of America's children can learn in a safe, secure environment.

Kareem Dale is an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement and Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy