Bill To Allow School Resource Officers To Handcuff Special Needs Students Fails In TN House Subcommittee

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The Tennessee Conservative [By Kelly M. Jackson] –

The Tennessee House K-12 Subcommittee voted to fail a bill that would have enabled school district security officers to use mechanical restraints, or handcuffs, on disabled students.

HB0127, sponsored by Representative Greg Martin (R-D26-Hamilton County), aimed to allow a school resource officer, school security officer, or other law enforcement officer who is trained and certified for completing a behavior intervention training program to use a mechanical restraint on a student receiving special education services in an emergency situation. – Amends TCA Title 49, Chapter 10, Part 13 and Title 49, Chapter 6.

There were two individuals on hand to testify before the committee, Mr. Scott Bennett who is the attorney who represents the Hamilton County School Board, and Mrs. Angela Smith, a concerned parent to a disabled student in Williamson County.

Mr. Bennett presented his case for the legislation, explaining that because Hamilton County heavily relies on School Security Officers to manage behavioral issues in their district, the bill would function primarily to include SSO’s as those who would be legally able to use mechanical restraints on special education students.

SRO’s (Sheriff’s Resource Officers) according to current law, do have the ability to handcuff a student in an emergency situation, (which is loosely defined in the code) where the student is a danger to himself or others.  However, in those situations, the student then becomes introduced into the legal system and the school district no longer maintains control over the decisions that pertain to consequences. 

This would be an untenable circumstance for a student who is acting out due to their disability, and not because they are willfully being disobedient. 

Mr. Bennett conveyed a lack of properly trained personnel such as the Board-Certified Behavioral Analysts that most of the other districts in the state have access to and expressed a need to utilize their School Security Guards instead.  The issue would be that the training that would be administered could be severely inadequate in comparison to those who have an extensive background in dealing with children with disabilities. 

Following Mr. Bennett’s testimony, the committee heard from Mrs. Angela Smith who spoke to them about her 18-year-old son, who has autism, and is non-verba at diagnosis. At 6’ 1 inches and 200 pounds, her son, due to acute sensory issues, is sometimes prone to behaviors that could be construed as “dangerous” by someone who is not aware of his condition, nor the plan in place to assist him when he is experiencing the stress that causes the behavior. 

Mrs. Smith emphasized a deep concern that someone like her son would be exposed to abuse and trauma he may never recover from, if the entire state is forced to adopt this bill as law. 

 The members of the committee shared Mrs. Smith’s concerns, and with a voice vote, declined to move it forward in the legislative process.  

About the Author: Kelly Jackson is a recent escapee from corporate America, and a California refugee to Tennessee. Christ follower, Wife and Mom of three amazing teenagers. She has a BA in Comm from Point Loma Nazarene University, and has a background in law enforcement and human resources. Since the summer of 2020, she has spent any and all free time in the trenches with local grassroots orgs, including Mom’s for Liberty Williamson County and Tennessee Stands as a core member.  Outspoken advocate for parents rights, medical freedom, and individual liberty. Kelly can be reached at

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