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How do we get them to "see" what is going on?

My Representative's response to my concerns regarding MO HB 1543:
I read the bill and this bill will only protect students, staff and property from any type of harm and it does not increase or allow any type of punishment for "acts" of students.

My response:

Representative Smith,

Thank you for your response. I really appreciate your efforts to take my concerns seriously. I think it is extremely difficult for people to envision the type of abuse that can happen in schools. Unfortunately "use of force to protect person or property" can be interpreted in many different ways. If a child rips paper off a bulletin board the proposed bill language not only gives the schools the authority to apply "use of force" to stop the child from "damaging property", it also allows them to determine what is "reasonable" force (this is happening to a 6-year-old child in southern Missouri right now, and in this child's case he was placed on his stomach in a prone restraint with an adult on top of him for things such as kick under a desk and ripping paper).

I can assure you that at one point of time "use of force to protect person or property" would've only conjured up images of a teacher breaking up a fight in the cafeteria, but I have seen and heard other unfortunate interpretations that are unsafe for the staff and children. I also believe that teachers and staff need to be assured training and support to prevent and de-escalate situations rather than relying on "use of force" as the first line of intervention.

Please watch this quick video of Congressman George Miller discussing this issue during the mark up of HR 4247: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dADmiyJNU34&feature=youtube_gdata to get a quick understanding of how serious and widespread this issue is.

I am not asking that the provision "use of force to protect person or property" be removed as much as I am asking that it be clarified and narrowed down. Restraint (i.e., limiting an individual’s body movement to prevent or manage out-of-control behavior) is a type of "use of force", and data supports that restraints and other "uses of force" are being misused and abused in our schools, disproportionally on children with disabilities. For more information regarding this bill (and how it compares to other state and federal efforts), please see below. [included similar information from here: http://nomoseclusion.blogspot.com/2010/02/take-action-now-missouri-hb-1543-and.html]

If you are interested in meeting with me and others on this issue, I am willing to arrange something.


Ange Hemmer

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