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Educators, advocates speak to new standards for use of force
Senate Bill 396 revises state law passed in 2010 limiting the use of child restraint practices in schools and specialized facilities like the Youth Detention Center and Crotched Mountain School. The law regulates the use of seclusion, restraint and the use of force.
Under the bill the departments of education and health and human services would be required to write rules to carry out the program and the Education Department would investigate incidents of inappropriate use of restraint and isolation.
Michael Skibbie, Policy Director for the Disabilities Rights Center, said the bill does not prohibit restraint or seclusion, but noted many schools do not use either method.
There is a clear need to beef up the requirement that schools notify parents if restraint or seclusion has been used on their child Skibbie said.
They are exploring an out-of-district placement to meet their son's needs, McSheehan said.
Jennifer Bertrand of Mont Vernon and a teacher told of her daughter's experience in public school.
"This is serious stuff, eight to 10 children die every year," she told the committee. "This has a serious impact on kids. I need to know about it as her mother."
"Let's not put difficult restrictions on teachers and staff," Michener said.
Mark Joyce of the NH School Administrators Association agreed with Michener that the use of force standard was overly restrictive and would not allow educators to intervene when imminent danger is expected, only when there is the threat of actual harm.
But David Villiotti, executive director of the Nashua Children's Home, said the primary goal is to train staff not only in restraining students but also deescalating situations.
Only trained staff would be able to restrain a child in the bill and then only as a last resort.
The bill requires each faculty and school to have a written policy and procedures.
The committee did not make an immediate recommendation on the bill.
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