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Illinois Puts Children At Risk By Failing To Pass Law Banning Dangerous Restraints

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

January 14, 2021

CONTACT: Zena Naiditch, 312-895-7314, zena@equipforequality.org

CHICAGO – On Wednesday, the Illinois House of Representatives failed to take action on HB 2263, that would have banned the use of prone physical restraint, established a restrictive statutory standard on the use of other restraint practices and seclusion and required schools to adopt plans to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of these traumatizing and dangerous practices—for both students and teachers. The legislation also gave parents the right to attend school meetings and influence the decisions about how best to respond to and support their student when in crisis. While the Senate passed the bill unanimously on Tuesday, it died in the House yesterday when legislators allowed time to run out.

“Once again Illinois has failed its children,” said Zena Naiditch, President & CEO of Equip for Equality. “Prone, or face down, physical restraint is a very dangerous and potentially lethal intervention, and it must be banned. We lost a profound opportunity to fundamentally change school practices, practices which seriously threaten the safety and wellbeing of students with disabilities. There are safer, more humane approaches to successfully respond to students with behavioral challenges who are in crisis.”

Beginning in 2019, an explosive series of articles from the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois brought to the forefront widespread and abusive practices of seclusion and physical restraint in Illinois schools. The investigative reporters found that existing laws and rules were ineffective in preventing misuse of these dangerous interventions because of weak restrictions on their use. The reporters found that restraint and seclusion were often used to punish students in violation of the law—making Illinois a national leader in the use of these inhumane and dangerous practices.

Over a year ago, Governor Pritzker called for reform. While the Illinois State Board of Education adopted new rules restricting the use of restraint and seclusion in schools, further action was needed to keep children safe. The Illinois General Assembly appeared ready to make sweeping changes.

After strong pushback from the school industry, the movement to safeguard our state’s children was once again severely hamstrung. However, following months of negotiations led by the bill’s sponsors, Senator Ann Gillespie and Representative Jonathan Carroll, the much-needed safety reforms were poised to become Illinois law after passing unanimously out of the Senate.

By failing to act on HB 2263 before the conclusion of the outgoing General Assembly this week, Illinois has again failed its children. As a result, our students will continue to be traumatized, seriously injured, or worse. For the safety and wellbeing of all our children, we strongly urge the new General Assembly to pass this critical legislation on an urgent basis as the 2021 General Assembly session commences.

 

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Last updated: January 14, 2021

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