AUSTIN — Parents are calling on lawmakers to do more when it comes to the mistreatment of children with disabilities.
A group of parents, advocates and lawmakers held a press conference Monday at the Texas State Capitol to highlight legislative priorities for limiting excessive force used in special education classrooms in Texas.
One mother explained that her autistic daughter, who was educated in a self-contained special education classroom, came home with unexplained bruises, bites, and scratches. He claimed that he was placed in a dark bathroom and was sometimes violently restrained by a teacher.
Another mother said her 3-year-old had been strapped to a chair so many times on her way to school that she had frequent meltdowns whenever she was placed in a belted seat, such as a high chair or car seat. is occurring.
“Every day we delay failing to remedy these tragic interactions is another child we reach, physically and emotionally traumatized, hurt, and affected by these It’s another family that has to endure the heartbreaking reality,” said Congressman John Bussy III, D-Austin.
Advocates have called for a series of policy changes, including an update to the state penal code that said it would provide near-total immunity for educators who harm students.
Jolene Sanders-Foster, advocacy director for the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, added language clarifying that the use of force is limited to emergencies, such as ensuring the safety of students or the safety of other students. I said I want you to.
Sanders-Foster added that he also hopes to update the code to clarify what is considered a legitimate use of force against students.
With these changes, Sanders Foster wants the school’s teachers and staff to be held accountable for how students are treated.
Jackie Benestante, executive director of the Texas Autism Association, calls for increased involvement of Texas Child Protective Services when excessive force is used and additional state funding to better train special education staff. asked for an offer.
“Our focus is not just on the consequences of excessive force and violent restraints, but also because Texas teachers are best trained in interventions and support for positive behavior, becoming proactive rather than passive. We also want to have the tools we need to do it,” says Benestante. He said.
For starters, Houston Rep. Lacey Hull (R-Houston) reintroduced HB 459, also known as the No Kids in Cuffs bill, which died in the previous session of the Senate. It prohibits the use of physical restraints or chemical stimulants by security officers and school security personnel on certain students.
Democratic Rep. Mary Gonzalez has vowed to go further, saying that while no legislation has yet been introduced to address the other concerns mentioned, she hopes they will be addressed in this Congress. He added that there are
“We want transparency. We want accountability. We want to be proactive rather than reactive,” Gonzalez says. “These are not politicized behemoths, but very common sense recommendations to ultimately put the lives of our most vulnerable and most precious children in the healthiest and safest environments.”
Legislators have until March 10th to submit their bills.