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Republican lawmakers denounce bill to limit student restraint, seclusion in schools

Parents and educators say they fear children will need to find schooling out of state if the bill is passed.
(WABI)
Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 6:04 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Parents and educators joined Republican lawmakers Monday to denounce a bill addressing student restraint and seclusion in Maine schools.

“Restraint and seclusion are not punitive acts. Rather these tools offer support for students struggling in school with emotional and or behavioral control,” said Representative Sheila Lyman.

The bill was voted ought to pass on a partisan level in the committee on education and cultural affairs, but parents and educators of students with special needs say this will do more harm than good.

“I do not believe I will be able to keep my students safe during a time in their lives that they have the most profound work to do, and I do not believe that some of the children that I have helped would have been able to stay in public school,” said Jesse Moon, a behavioral consultant.

Those in favor of the bill say current practices discriminate against students with disabilities and allowing seclusion adds trauma to more trauma.

Parents like Wendy Perkins say for their kids that’s not the case.

“She can’t regulate herself, she is self injurious, she’s aggressive, she needs that seclusion. It’s just the only way to de-escalate,” said Wendy Perkins, a parent of a child with special needs.

Representative Sheila Lyman offered an amendment to the bill that would keep the use of seclusion but democratic lawmakers did not vote to pass it.

“The option of seclusion ensures the continued integration of students in the classroom. They are implemented in the moment when there is a threat of bodily harm to the students or threat of harm to others,” said Lyman.

Parents and educators say they fear children will need to find schooling out of state if the bill is passed.

It will move to the full legislature for a final vote.

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