Lauren Book seeks to limit the use of mechanical stress on students with disabilities
Democratic Leader in the Senate Lauren’s Book seeks to further limit the use of restraints on students with disabilities with a new bill introduced ahead of the 2022 legislative session.
The new measure follows legislation approved during the 2021 session. The invoice for the book this year (SB 390and) prevent any non-law enforcement or safety personnel from using mechanical restraints on students with disabilities. This would completely prevent teachers, counselors and other non-security related personnel from using such measures.
The book’s legislation states that the ban “does not apply to school resource officers, school security officers, school tutors or school security guards …
Legislation approved last year restricts the use of seclusion and restraint techniques as a punitive measure against students with disabilities. The new law only allows such practices to protect students or staff, and only after all other options have failed. Seclusion or restraint can no longer be used as a purely disciplinary measure.
Book, a plantation democrat, fought for the bill in recent years before obtaining the approval of the last session. Govt. Ron DeSantis signed this bill in June.
Now, the Democratic Senate leader is looking to extend those protections by cracking down on mechanical stress, which she says can cause bleeding or broken bones.
“Students deserve to be safe in school and parents deserve peace of mind,” Book said in a written statement announcing the new legislation.
“The use of restraints can be traumatic for children and should only be used as a last resort – we know there is a better way. This policy builds on the great strides we made over the past year, as we work to ensure that Florida classrooms are as safe as possible for students with disabilities. “
This year’s bill also changes some terms of last year’s bill. Rather than exposing limited types of restraint to protect the safety of others – such as straight jackets, ties, or handcuffs – Book’s bill states that any “physical restraint” is subject to these limitations.
The new wording also indicates that such procedures “shall” be terminated “as soon as the threat posed by the unsafe behavior has dissipated”. Last year’s bill stated that the use of restraint “must” be stopped in these circumstances. The use of “shall” in legislation has generally been used as a synonym for the word “shall”, but the change to Book is intended to make the language clearer.
So far, no member of the Chamber has introduced any accompanying measure.