LINCOLN, Neb. – The new year is bringing a new effort to pass LB 147, a bill that would allow all teachers to physically restrain children under their care.
Educators and advocates – including the ACLU of Nebraska, the Arc of Nebraska, Voices for Children in Nebraska, and the Nebraska Council of School Administrators – are concerned about this bill and urge lawmakers to do everything they can to limit physical use of force in the classroom.
Data shows use of physical restraint disproportionately impacts Nebraska students of color and students with disabilities. According to the Department of Education’s most recent Civil Rights Data Collection, about eight in 10 of all Nebraska kids who were physically restrained are covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Likewise, Nebraska kids who are Black / African American or Native / American Indian were also overrepresented among kids who were physically restrained.
What People Are Saying:
“In about 80% of cases that restraint is used it is on a child with a disability. While some may say it is about safety, it is truly about not taking the time or consideration to properly train staff to ensure the safety of people with disabilities.”
-Edison McDonald, Executive Director of the Arc of Nebraska
“The current law, under the Nebraska Student Discipline Act, already permits teachers and administrators to take reasonable steps necessary in discipline matters. A more productive legislative pursuit would be for the state to provide funding to train certificated staff, including training to defuse difficult situations in the classroom.”
-Dr. Michael Dulaney, Executive Director of the Nebraska Council of School Administrators
“We have an obligation as a state to support our students, teachers, and schools so that every child has an opportunity to thrive. This bill would move Nebraska in the wrong direction, putting the use of physical contact and removal into statute while declining the opportunity to give schools any resources that will actually help struggling students.”
- Juliet Summers, Policy Coordinator for Child Welfare & Juvenile Justice, Voices for Children in Nebraska
“Nebraska has outstanding teachers who have tough jobs but opening the door for increased use of force in the classroom is only going to hurt the learning environment they’ve worked so hard to create. We know that restraint hurts kids and that kids of color and kids with disabilities suffer the most. At best, this is a misguided effort to tackle a problem that could be better solved with more training, smarter policies and more much-needed resources.”
- Rose Godinez, Legal and Policy Counsel of the ACLU of Nebraska