In the United States, students with disabilities are entitled to special accommodations at public schools to assist them with their development. In some cases, schools will mainstream many of these students into the general student body. On the other hand, there are students keep in specialized classes suited to meet their physical, mental, and emotional needs. A challenge that many of these schools have is deciding the best form of discipline for many of these students. One controversial form of punishment that many educators in the State of Florida implemented in the past was something called seclusion. On June 21, 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law Florida House Bill 149, which prevents this form of discipline. In this article, we will discuss HB 149 and how it may impact your special needs student.
What Is Student Seclusion?
Seclusion is when a school places a student in a small room by themselves to allow them to calm down. Proponents argue that this form of discipline allows the student to be in a safe, controlled environment. This environment prevents them from causing further harm or damage to either themselves or others. However, many opponents argue that this form of discipline is cruel, emotionally harms the child and stunts their development. Additionally, they argue that it is ineffective.
What Does Florida House Bill 149 (HB149) Do?
HB149 prohibits public schools from using this form of punishment in students with disabilities, such as those who fall on the autism spectrum disorder. It also prevents schools from using restraints such as handcuffs that may restrict breathing or blood flow and prevents the child from being restrained in a face-down position.
How Will Educators Discipline Students With Disabilities Instead?
HB 149 encourages educators who will be working with children with disabilities in positive behavior intervention and supports (PBIS).
What IS PBIS?
According to PBIS.org, PBIS is a three-tiered framework that helps improve students’ behavior.
- Firstly, Tier 1 establishes a routine of support while discouraging unwanted behavior.
- Then, Tier 2 establishes a support network for students who are at risk for developing more serious behavioral problems.
- Finally, Tier 3 allows students to receive more individualized support to improve their behavior.
What Else Does HB 149 Do?
HB 149 also establishes a three-year pilot program in the Broward County School District that will allow parents of children with special needs or disabilities to request a camera be placed in the classroom so the parent may be able to monitor their child and make sure that their child is being treated well.
What Doesn’t HB 149 Do?
HB 149 no longer allows for student seclusion discipline and limits when and how schools can use restraints on a student with disabilities. However, it does not outright ban them. Some activists’ concern is that without an outright ban, schools may use similar forms of punishment.
Contact Thompson Law
If you are a parent of a child with disabilities, contact Thompson Law to understand your rights as a parent and protect your child’s rights. The lawyers at Thompson Law have years of experience in special education law in Florida. We will work diligently to protect your child and ensure that they are receiving every service they should.