Florida Politics | By Anne Geggis | February 1, 2022
Last year’s legislation allowed for the use of restraints on students if that use didn’t restrict airflow or put students in a facedown position.
An update to last year’s law that banned seclusion and limited the use of restraints to discipline students with disabilities received unanimous approval in committee Tuesday morning.
Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia, a former Orlando teacher, sponsored the legislation (SB 235) that outright bans school personnel from using a “mechanical restraint” on students, except if they are school resource officers, school safety officers, school guardians or security guards. The bill is now heading to a full House vote.
A law passed last year had banned the use of restraints only if the devices, such as straitjackets, zip ties, handcuffs or tie downs, obstructed or restricted breathing or blood flow or placed students in a face-down position with the student’s hands behind his or her back.
This bill takes that language out and limits restraint use to “authorized personnel” and only for students in grades 6 through 12.
The bill adds the words “physical” and “must” to the current law’s wording, so it reads, “Physical restraint may be used only when there is an imminent risk of serious injury and must be discontinued as soon as the threat posed by the dangerous behavior has dissipated.”
Caitlyn Clibbon, public policy analyst for Disability Rights Florida, said the use of physical restraints is still happening in nine Florida school districts.
“That means 59 districts have figured out how to safely educate students,” she said.
Plasencia told Florida Politics his home district is one of those still using the physical restraint devices.
“It took us 12 years to pass the last bill and last summer we found out there was a carve-out for mechanical restraints,” Plasencia said. “There aren’t a lot of school districts that utilize this anymore, and there’s really no need for it.”
Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book is sponsoring an identical bill (SB 390) that is headed to a Senate committee this afternoon.