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JFAAN Statement on House Passage of Restraint and Seclusion Legislation

For Immediate Release:

March 4, 2010

Disability Coalition applauds passage of Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion Legislation

Legislation that protects students with disabilities a key item on Coalition Agenda

(Washington D.C.) — The Justice for All Action Network (JFAAN), a coalition of disability-led organizations, applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for passage of HR 4247, the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act. The legislation, which equips students with disabilities with federal protection from abuse in the schools, was approved in the House March 3 by a vote of 262-153.

“The legislation approved today is the first of its kind. It goes far beyond previous efforts to protect students with disabilities,” said Paula Durbin-Westby of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, a member of the JFAAN Steering Committee.

The Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act will put significant restrictions on schools restraining children, confining them in seclusion rooms, and using aversive interventions to harm them. A Government Accountability Office study found hundreds of cases over the last two decades of alleged abuse and death from restraint and seclusion in public and private schools. The majority of students in the study were students with disabilities.

“When passed by the Senate and signed by President Obama, this legislation will be the first step in putting an end to the long history of students with disabilities being subjected to inappropriate and abusive restraint and seclusion,” said Durbin-Westby. “We urge the Senate to vote on the legislation soon in order to equip students with critically needed protections from abusive restraint and seclusion.”

Currently, 23 states have laws with weak or no protections. HR 4247 will create a minimum level of protection for schoolchildren that all states must meet or exceed. Unlike previous attempts to protect students with disabilities, this legislation applies to all students and bans the worst practices, including mechanical restraint, chemical restraint and physical restraint.

Legislation that protects people with disabilities from unwarranted restraints and seclusions is a key component of a campaign agenda developed by JFAAN. The JFAAN Joint Campaign Agenda addresses major policy issues of people with intellectual, physical, psychiatric, developmental and sensory disabilities.

Created in an effort to build a strong and unified cross-disability movement, the Justice for All Action Network is organized into a steering committee of 13 national consumer-led disability organizations and more than 20 organizational and individual members. The group was formed in the wake of the 2008 Presidential Election.

About the Justice for All Action Network

Mission: The Justice for All Action Network is a national cross-disability coalition, led by disability groups run by persons with disabilities with support from allies, committed to building a strong and unified cross-disability movement so that individuals with disabilities have the power to shape national policies, politics, media, and culture.

Working as a coalition, JFAAN is committed to accomplishing each item on the coalition’s agenda by July 2010, the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Steering Committee Members: ADAPT, American Association of People with Disabilities, American Council of the Blind, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Hearing Loss Association of America, Little People of America, National Association of the Deaf, National Coalition of Mental Health Consumer Survivor Organizations, National Council on Independent Living, National Federation of the Blind, Not Dead Yet, Self Advocates Becoming Empowered, United Spinal Association.

For more information, contact Paula Durbin-Westby, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, pdurbinwestby@autisticadvocacy.org; Andrew Imparato, American Association of People with Disabilities, aimparato@aapd.com.

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