All students deserve an education that prepares them for employment, college, and living independently. That includes students with disabilities. Yet many students with disabilities continue to be segregated in separate schools and classrooms, where the expectations are low and the quality of education is even lower. Too few graduate with a diploma, and too many are pushed into the criminal justice system through the school-to-prison pipeline. CPR is engaged in policy initiatives to ensure that all students with disabilities have the opportunity to receive a quality education, with the supports they need to succeed, alongside their peers without disabilities.
Restraint and Seclusion
Students have been injured, and even killed, by being inappropriately restrained and secluded by school staff. Many schools still use restraint and seclusion to control student behavior, in an attempt force compliance or as a disciplinary measure, despite the consensus that restraint and seclusion can be dangerous and are not therapeutic.
- CPR will continue to work with Congress on the passage of the Keeping All Students Safe Act (KASSA). The bill limits the use of restraints and ban the practice of seclusion for any school receiving federal funds. The bill would also better equip school personnel with the training they need to address challenging behavior with evidence-based proactive strategies. Read the letter CPR joined in February 2019 and the earlier letter CPR joined in November 2018 in support of KASSA. We expect the bill to be reintroduced early in the 116th Congress.
Collaboration on Federal Education Policy Initiatives
CPR collaborates with other civil rights and disability organizations on education policy issues. Through the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Education Task Force, CPR engages in advocacy around federal legislation and policy impacting students with disabilities. Recently, CCD successfully advocated to ensure that Congress included accountability for the education of students with disabilities in the recently-passed Every Student Succeeds Act and its implementing regulations. CCD is preparing for a possible reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In addition, CPR raised questions about, and opposed the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of the Department of Education based on her record and hearing testimony regarding students with disabilities.
Students cannot learn if they are pushed out of schools and classrooms. CPR and other civil rights and disability organizations have joined together to form the Civil Rights Roundtable to fight against unfair school discipline, school push-out, and the school-to-prison pipeline. Among other things, the Civil Rights Roundtable successfully advocated for guidance from the U.S. Department of Education, including around behavioral supports for students with disabilities and seclusion and restraint:
- August 2016 Dear Colleague Letter on Providing Behavioral Supports to Students With Disabilities
- December 2016 Dear Colleague Letter on Seclusion and Restraint
Members of the Civil Rights Roundtable also participated in a convening of the National Council on Disability around the school-to-prison pipeline, which led to this June 18, 2015 report.