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Gov. DeSantis signs bill revising use of restraint for students with disabilities

The bill prohibits the use of seclusion on students and requires stricter guidelines for the use of physical restraint.

A new Florida law will change the way students with disabilities are disciplined in public schools.

HB 149 was included in a group of 44 bills that Gov. Ron DeSantis signed on Monday.

The bill prohibits the use of seclusion on students and requires stricter guidelines for the use of physical restraint on students with disabilities. 

It also introduces a pilot program where, upon the request of a parent, video cameras will be placed in certain classrooms of students with disabilities.

“Restraint and seclusion techniques are too heavily depended on in the classroom, specifically when issues arise with students who have disabilities,” said Fort Lauderdale Rep. Bobby DuBose, who sponsored the bill, per Florida Politics.

The new law will instead look toward positive behavior interventions and will provide the necessary training to school personnel. 

It calls for restraints to be used only as a last resort after all other options have been exhausted "to avoid imminent risk of serious physical injury, and without obstructing or restricting breathing or blood flow, and without placing the student in a facedown position with the student’s hands restrained behind the student’s back."'

The pilot video monitoring program will get underway in Broward County in the 2021-2022 school year.

Senator Lauren Book, who sponsored the bill's Florida Senate companion legislation, said this law will protect students who "deserve to be safe at school."

"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," Book said.

There have been more than 78,000 incidents of restraint and nearly 21,000 incidents of seclusion reported in Florida between 2010 and 2020, which have lead to students suffering bleeding, bone fractures, and psychological trauma, according to a release from Sen. Book's office.

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