The Tennessee Conservative [By Kelly M. Jackson] –
This week, a bill that would enable school district security employees to use handcuffs on disabled students, will be heard in committees on both sides of the Tennessee General assembly.
House Bill 0127 (HB0127) and companion Senate bill 0141 (SB0141) sponsored by Rep. Greg Martin (R-Hamilton County-District 26) and Sen. Bo Watson (R-Hixson-District 11) will be heard in the House K-12 Subcommittee on 3/21 and the Senate Education Committee on 3/22.
The legislation, as introduced, allows 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.
The concern surrounding this bill is that it will expose children with disabilities to a risk of abuse. There are state and federal laws that have been put in place to protect these students – laws which run the risk of being violated if this bill is passed.
Those laws state that disabled children have a right to the same education that non-disabled students do. If there is a risk that mechanical restraints can be used on a disabled student in such a way that it interferes with that access, it is a violation of federal education statutes that protect these vulnerable students.
In most cases, a student has already been evaluated with what is called a functional behavioral assessment. There are plans in place that by federal law, the parent of the child would have had to review and give consent to implement.
The question that parents have been asking, is “why is there a need to suddenly use mechanical restraints on special education students, when law passed in 2021 precludes such a practice?”
In addition, organizations like Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Association For Behavioral Analysis oppose such practices, and the DOJ has already found cases of abuse that have lead to an end of restraint and seclusion, calling the practices “discriminatory”.
The answer can possibly be found in recent news reports, that indicate a lack of resources in Hamilton county, Representative Martin’s and Senator Bo Watson’s district.
According to reports, the Hamilton County Sherriff’s Office has not been able to support all the needs of the school system with SRO’s.
Additional reports indicate that Hamilton County Sheriff Austin Garrett said he had no plans to train deputies to restrain students with special needs, and that they “have no business” doing such.
Hamilton County School Board attorney Scott Bennett requested of Representative Martin to present this legislation which he says is “intended to address an inconsistency in the law regarding who may use mechanical restraints, meaning handcuffs, to secure special education students. As the law stands right now, school resource officers may use mechanical restraints whereas school security officers may not.”
The impression that is given by this collection of events is that to ensure the ability to use mechanical restraints, HCS is hiring its own security staff and wants the existing law changed so their own employees can use handcuffs on the disabled students in their district.
Because the state of Tennessee dictates how and in what manner county BOE’s administer education, what goes for one county, must be applied to all.
This bill does not seem to be as much about protection of disabled students in the Volunteer State, but more about protection from liability for a single county’s board of education.
We encourage readers to reach out to both the House K-12 Subcommittee and the Senate Education Committee and express your disapproval of this bill by Monday afternoon so the committees have the information needed to make a fully informed decision.
House K-12 Subcommittee
Rep. Kirk Haston (R) – Chair – firstname.lastname@example.org – (615) 741-0750
Rep. Gino Bulso (R) – email@example.com – (615) 741-6808
Rep. Chris Hurt (R) – firstname.lastname@example.org – (615) 741-2134
Rep. Sam McKenzie (D) – email@example.com – (615) 741-0768
Rep. Bryan Richey (R) – firstname.lastname@example.org – (615) 741-3560
Rep. William Slater (R) – email@example.com – (615) 741-2534
Rep. Robert Stevens (R) – firstname.lastname@example.org – (615) 741-3830
Rep. Todd Warner (R) – email@example.com – (615) 741-4170
Rep. Mark White (R) – Bill Sponsor – firstname.lastname@example.org – (615) 741-4415
Senate Education Committee
Jon Lundberg (Chair) (R)- email@example.com – (615) 741-5761
Bill Powers (Vice-Chair) (R) – firstname.lastname@example.org – (615) 741-2734
Raumesh Akbari (2nd Vice-Chair) (D) – email@example.com – (615) 741-1767
Rusty Crowe (R) – firstname.lastname@example.org – (615) 741-2468
Todd Gardenhire (Chair) (R)- email@example.com – (615) 741-6682
Ferrell Haile (R) – firstname.lastname@example.org – (615) 741-1999
Joey Hensley (R) – email@example.com – (615) 741-3100
Mark Pody (R) – firstname.lastname@example.org – (615) 741-2421
Dawn White (R) – email@example.com – (615) 741-6853
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.