This week Senator Lauren Book (D- Plantation) again filed legislation to prohibit seclusion and provide stricter guidelines for the use of physical restraint for students with disabilities in Florida schools. SB 192 also proposes a pilot video monitoring program for self-contained classrooms, provides for additional training for staff, and more. Sadly, several high profile stories of alleged abuse in Florida’s special education classrooms have made headlines in the past several years.
“Students deserve to be safe at school, and parents deserve peace of mind,” says Senator Book. “While the majority of our special education school professionals provide caring and safe learning environments for students with disabilities, we have unfortunately seen serious abuses committed as well. This bill will ensure students with disabilities are not placed into dangerous situations including seclusion and restraint while in Florida classrooms.”
There have been more than 78,000 incidents of restraint and nearly 21,000 incidents of seclusion reported in Florida between 2010 (when the reporting system was developed) and 2020. These types of incidents can lead to students suffering bleeding or bone fractures, in addition to the psychological trauma of the experience.
“It is our responsibility to protect all children, especially those that cannot speak for or stand up for and protect themselves,” says parent Jason Segelbaum. “Our son, Max, is non-verbal and like many other special needs children has limited communication abilities, he has no way of letting the adults know when he is being hurt, mistreated or abused. The only way for us to protect our most vulnerable children is to place cameras in their classrooms to be the eyes and ears for them.”
This will be Senator Book’s fourth time filing similar legislation designed to keep our most vulnerable children safe in school.