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Congress to Consider Beyer's School Seclusion Bill

AP Photo / Alex Brandon

Members of Congress are about to consider a piece of school legislation that has its origins in the Virginia General Assembly.

The road from idea to state law to federal bill started about three years ago. State Senator Barbara Favola found out that many children with disabilities were locked in a closet or tied to a chair at school, secluded from their classmates and missing out on an education.

“A child is not going to be educated if he or she is placed in a closet all day because behaviors are not understood or schools don’t have the proper strategies.”

So she introduced a bill that required the State Board of Education to adopt regulations. The bill passed the General Assembly, and the governor signed it. Now Congressman Don Beyer is hoping to take that idea to Washington, introducing a bill that would prevent public schools from secluding students for any reason.

"Virginia is leading the nation on this, which is not accidental. Often I will learn from my friends in the General Assembly something that we can extend across the country.”

Beyer says one of the key arguments in favor of the bill is a Government Accountability study from 2009 that revealed hundreds of incidents of child abuse in school as a result of seclusion and restraint practices that disproportionately targeted children with disabilities and children of color.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.