MISSOURI-- The Missouri House of Representatives Education Committee met Tuesday morning to discuss several bills, including one that would tighten restrictions on seclusion and restraint in schools.
House Bill 387 is sponsored by Dottie Bailey (R-Eureka). Last year, it passed the House with only four votes against it. It died in the Senate due to the pandemic, before being reintroduced later.
Bailey introduced the bill in response to concerns about use of seclusion and restraint by Columbia Public Schools.
"What we had seen last year was quite awful. One particular school district, the Columbia Public School district..., I saw some pictures and heard some stories that will curl your hair," Bailey said.
A spokesperson for Columbia Public Schools told KOMU 8 that the district's policies already prohibit what Bailey's bill proposes. The spokesperson says the policies have been in place since before the bill was introduced.
The bill defines seclusion as "the involuntary confinement of a student alone in a room or area that the student is physically prevented from leaving..."
HB 387 would ban the use of seclusion and restraint as punishments for misbehavior. Instead, they would only be allowed in cases of imminent physical danger.
"Seclusion is only used for time of emergency. If a child is imminent danger to himself or is imminent danger to staff or another student, that is the time for seclusion," Bailey said.
The bill also requires the use of seclusion and restraint to be monitored in writing. Schools must inform parents within one hour of the school day's end.
Representative Brad Pollitt (R-Sedalia) said that most schools already follow these rules.
"The majority of school districts in the state of Missouri do this right, and we always have to come down here and make laws for those that maybe misuse some policy," he said.
The bill remains in committee after Tuesday's public hearing.