The Keeping All Students Safe Act, introduced by Rep. Don Beyer (VA-08), Sen. Chis Murphy (CT), Chairman Bobby Scott (VA-03), Chair Patty Murray (WA), and Rep. Donald McEachin (VA-04) would make it illegal for any school receiving federal funds to seclude a child or use dangerous restraint practices that restrict breathing, such as prone or supine restraint. The bill would also prohibit schools from physically restraining children, except when necessary to protect the safety of students and staff. Lastly, the bill would better equip school personnel with the training they need to address school- expected behavior with evidence-based proactive strategies.
In this session we will be talking with several individuals that experienced restraint and seclusion firsthand.
Julie Weiner is a graduate student, writer, and disability rights activist and advocate from suburban Philadelphia. She lives with a chronic pain and fatigue condition and uses a wheelchair part-time. She survived restraint and seclusion at an affluent public school in both fourth and sixth grade as a response to her nonviolent dysregulated episodes. In 2019, Julie joined the Alliance Against Restraint and Seclusion’s efforts in fighting restraint and seclusion in the hopes that the next generation of students will not experience the trauma she experienced. She is a 2020 graduate of Muhlenberg College with a B.A. in English and is pursuing an M.A. in student affairs and higher education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Mina (real name: Jennifer) Han is an aspiring creative. During her childhood, she experienced the trauma of restraint and seclusion in school. With her passion for creative writing and art, Mina hopes to encourage self-care in a way to cope with the trauma and heal. As an advocate, she also supports the ban on the use of both restraint and seclusion in schools.
Sam is a self-advocate who is against the use of restraint and seclusion and a supporter of the Keeping All Students Safe Act. Sam was diagnosed with autism at age three. Sam was restrained when he was just five years old until he was fourteen. Sam runs his own photography business. Sam also works to shift the way people think about autism: from “awareness” to “acceptance.”
At forty eight years old Tom was diagnosed with PTSD. He has had trouble finding treatment since. As Tom would say "I'm still alive, so I guess that I’m a survivor, but I definitely don’t feel like one." Tom's experience with seclusion in special education in the nineteen eighties left him unable to maintain personal and professional relationships, or finish his education. Currently in therapy, Tom finds himself starting his life over at a time when other people his age are sending their kids off to college.