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URGENT Message: Act Today!

The civil rights and the physical and emotional well-being of students with disabilities are under attack in NJ!  Contact the Governor NOW!

  • Do you think it's ok for students to be subjected to restraints and seclusion while in school?
  • Do you think the NJ Legislature should craft a law that establishes disparate standards/procedures for students with and without disabilities?
  • Do you think students with disabilities should have less protection than students without disabilities?
  • Do you think we should increase the barriers for families of students with disabilities to report abuse of their child?

If you have concerns with any of these questions, your voice is needed.  

The bills, S-1163 & A-501, have been voted out of both the Assembly and Senate. If you want your voice heard you must contact the Governor NOW before he signs the bill.

Office of the Governor
Honorable Chris Christie

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We have been advocating for legislation to prohibit the use of restraint and seclusion in NJ schools for over 15 years.  Sadly, this issue has now been taken up by the Assembly Health and Senior Service Committee (not the Assembly Education Committee).  At the hearing, the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee had such a packed agenda that the two of us opposed to the bill only had 3 minutes to voice our opposition, after waiting an hour for amendments to be added that actually made the bill worse. 

The very first problem with S-1163/A-501 is the bill's name, “An Act concerning the use of physical restraint and seclusion techniques on students with disabilities and supplementing chapter 46 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes”

Since their definition of physical restraint is “use of a personal restriction that immobilizes or reduces the ability of a student to move all of a portion of his or her body” and further states “physical restraint is used only in an emergency in which the student is exhibiting behavior that places the student or others in immediate physical danger.”

Our first concern is that NJ already has a corporal punishment statute that has been on the books since the late 1890’s that already restricts the use of physical restraint to an emergency, for ALL students.

Our second concern is the creation of a second-class population in NJ schools, students with disabilities; this legislation would only allow the use of physical restraint and seclusion against students with disabilities!   It is already the case that 86% of the students that are subjected to physical restraint in NJ are covered by special education.   And students of color with disabilities are over-represented in the physical restraint and seclusion data.

The federal legislation that national organizations are working towards is the “Keeping All Students Safe Act.”  SPAN strongly urges the NJ legislature to adopt that legislation, which would actually keep NJ students safer.

We strongly oppose the use of prone restraint under any circumstances. This is the most dangerous restraint for children. It is traumatizing, and it is the restraint that causes the most injuries and death.   The NJ Assembly bill would allow prone restraints with a doctor’s prescription. Seclusion would also be allowed with a doctor’s prescription.  Both of these "procedures" are unnecessary, and neither have any research-based positive results.   These should never be planned interventions in a behavior plan; if we are truly using only in the case of an emergency why would we have a planned intervention?

The thought of someone observing throughout the duration of restraint and/or seclusion presumes it will continue for an amount of time...Our additional question is who or what are the qualifications for this monitoring? What about students with contr-aindicated medical issues or communication impairments? Is the responsible party also going to assume the liability?

The training proposed in the legislation only focuses on "correct' restraint technique not on de-escalation, positive behavior supports, or trauma informed practices.

Notification to the family about the use of these horrific practices on their children is now moved from 24 to 48 hours. We do not think there was a burden on having to notify families within 24-hours.

The three minuteswe were given to testify was not enough time to talk about the families that have children suffering from PTSD, Anxiety, School Refusal, etc. , or to show the pictures of cuts, bruises, rug burns, or to share the doctor reports of cracked ribs, broken wrists, blood vessels, legs. We also did not get to discuss the unintended consequences of teaching victimization compliance by repeated restraint use.

 A bill that is not strong enough can also be dangerous and afford parents a perceived layer of safety that just does not exist here. As well-intentioned as this piece of legislation is, it does not address many of the issues that the families who come to us for help are raising. Unfortunately, as written it would not have assisted or been a support to at least 75% of their children.

There was no discussion of the coercion that parents and medical professionals face to agree to the use of physical restraint and seclusion.  No discussion of parental permission. Civil rights issues. Non-disclosure settlements. Lack of training for investigating institutional abuse. Appropriate investigations. Training or discussion of procedural safeguards. Adequate risk information relayed to parents. Alternatives to restraint and seclusion; trauma-informed practices.

We advocated for a requirement that data be disaggregated by school, because the current bill only requires data reporting by county, which provides little useful information.  That, too, is missing from the bill.


If you have questions, contact SPAN Policy Director, Peg Kinsell at 201-724-4454 or