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Prone restraints bill advances

Published (3/30/2012)
By Erin Schmidtke
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School staff with specific training may physically restrain out-of-control students with special needs. The technique, called “prone restraints,” involves holding a student face-down until the situation becomes manageable.

The House passed HF2293/ SF1917* March 28, which would extend the authorization for use of the practice through the next school year. Sponsored by Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Mpls) and Sen. Pam Wolf (R-Spring Lake Park), it would also require that the Department of Education gather data on prone restraints, with the intent of eventually replacing the practice with a safe alternative.

Following the 116-16 vote, the bill now awaits action by Gov. Mark Dayton. The Senate passed it 65-0 March 15.

In Minnesota, prone restraints may only be used for a minimum amount of time and the force it takes to ensure the student or another person will not be injured. Davnie said that intermediate schools in the Twin Cities metropolitan area brought the issue to his attention because they feel some students may pose a danger if the restraint authorization is allowed to expire.

Without prone restraints, Davnie cautioned that some special needs students could instead be confined to their homes, costing them opportunities they have in school. Those who would be allowed to remain in class may require police involvement to subdue them.

“That’s not a positive impact for students,” he said.

Rep. Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth) voiced concern that the bill allows restraint of children ages 5 and older. She said that brought to mind her 4-year-old son.

“I can’t imagine him having the experience of being placed face down on the floor, for whatever reason that might be,” Anderson said.

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