- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 27, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Virginia Senate wants to rein in seclusion and restraint used as disciplinary measures in public schools.

The chamber’s 35-4 vote Tuesday follows accounts of children as young as kindergarten being restrained by several adults in separate incidents in recent months, locked away in segregation, and emerging with bruises and broken bones, all in response to minor misbehavior. In some cases, parents said they weren’t told what occurred.

The legislaton sponsored by Sen. Barbara Favola directs the state Board of Education to adopt statewide regulations governing the use of such measures. It includes requirements for training school staff and notifying parents.

Favola, an Arlington County Democrat, said 32 states have adopted policies on seclusion and restraint by law or regulation, and private schools in Virginia are already subject to such regulation.

Support for the measure was bipartisan. Sen. Thomas Garrett, a Republican from Louisa County, recalled his own experience as a first-grader.

“Kindergarten and first-grade boys can be rambunctious,” he said. “I went from a classroom achieving 99th percentile on every standardized test they put in front of me to a segregated room because one teacher couldn’t handle me because I was a handful … I was warehoused.”

Garrett noted that most of the complaints about abusive use of seclusion and restraint involve boys. “This is a war on our sons,” he said. “And it is still happening today.”

Similar legislation has been proposed in the House of Delegates by Del. Richard Bell, a Republican from Staunton. That bill is still in a subcommittee.

A spokesman for Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe said the governor supports the measures in concept.

Even if the legislation somehow gets derailed, the Board of Education appears ready to proceed with regulations on its own.

“The board very much wants to move forward on this,” Christian Braunlich, the board president, told The Associated Press. “We offered guidelines that said what you ought to do, but clearly not everybody was doing it.”


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