(Peter D’Auria, 3/15/2023)
Vermont lawmakers are considering placing restrictions on restraints and seclusion, controversial practices in which students are physically immobilized or detained in school.
On Tuesday, the House Committee on Education heard testimony on H.409, which would prohibit schools from secluding students and limit the use of physical restraints. As written, the bill also would require officials to report and track any instances of restraint and seclusion in schools.
Advocates argue that the practices can be dangerous and traumatic and disproportionately affect students with disabilities.
“That kind of trauma does stick with students and their families,” Rep. Theresa Wood, D-Waterbury, the bill’s sponsor, told lawmakers Tuesday. “It’s not something that staff and teachers also want to do.”
Dr. Melissa Houser, executive director of the neurodivergence advocacy group All Brains Belong VT, testified in favor of the bill Tuesday.
“Vermont has made so much effort over the past decade enhancing trauma-informed schools, trauma-informed health care, trauma-informed everything,” she said. “And yet Vermont law currently allows for children to be traumatized by being immobilized by physical force at school.”