Teachers with MEA say changes in restraint laws hurt classes

7:19 PM, Feb 20, 2013   |    comments
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AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Last September, changes were made to Chapter 33 of the state's Department of Education that affect the way educators can restrain unruly students in the classroom.

But the way the new rules are written have left a lot of confusion.

The wording says: "physical restraint may be used as an emergency intervention when the behavior of a student presents imminent risk of injury or harm to the student or others."

Many teachers showed up at the State House on Wednesday in support of Senator Tom Saviello's bill that would amend the changes.  They say their supervisors have told them that "restraint" includes putting their hand on the shoulder of a child having a temper tantrum and leading them out of the room, so they've been forced to instead uproot their class and leave the unruly child in the classroom alone.

They say the language leaves too much room for error, so many of them have erred on the cautious side, especially now that there's a new set of paper work to file each time a child is "restrained" in a classroom.

Karen Farber with the Disability Rights Center says these new rules were implemented for the safety of the students of Maine.   She says studies have shown that restraint and seclusion doesn't work on unruly students, which was one of the reasons for changing the rules in September.

Farber admits the wording could be adjusted but says mostly educators and parents need more clarity on what the rules mean.


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