BISMARCK - A bill to regulate the use of restraint and seclusion in North Dakota schools failed in the House on Friday.
Senate Bill 2266, whose primary sponsor is Senate Minority Leader Joan Heckaman, failed 33-12. The Senate Education Committee voted 5-2 to give the bill a "do not pass" recommendation.
The bill would have required all schools to adopt restraint and seclusion policies by July 1, 2020. It would also mandate schools report incidents to the state Department of Public Instruction and the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.
The bill also included a $500,000 appropriation to train school personnel on the district restraint and seclusion policy.
Sen. Donald Schaible, R-Mott, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said the training requirement is "terribly underfunded" and, therefore, would make the bill an "unfunded mandate to our schools."
"(Senate Bill) 2266 was a cry for help, but your Education Committee feels that this bill does not provide any help," Schaible said.
Several parents gave emotional testimony at the bill's hearing earlier this month. Some parents said their children with intellectual and developmental disabilities were held in "prone restraints" — lying face-down — or kept in storage rooms. The U.S. Department of Education says a prone restraint should not be used, as it can restrict breathing.
Disability advocates argue that restraint and seclusion techniques are not helpful in reducing challenging behaviors.
Heckaman, a retired teacher, said Friday that the bill does not provide enough funding for training, and many schools do not have resources to train teachers and staff on the proper response to students with challenging behaviors. She said that was the reason why the bill was opposed by school boards and school administrator groups.
"That should tell us a lot right there. We are not funding these necessary interventions, professional development and resources so our students, teachers, administrators, staff and parents have reassurances that everyone in our schools are safe and have the best environment in which to learn," she said.