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Disability Coalition Applauds Introduction of Legislation that Protects Students with Disabilities from Abuse

Posted Dec 09 2009 3:03pm

Below is a press release from the Justice for All Action Network and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. While the topic of seclusion and restraint is painful to write about, it is a pleasure to highlight disability advocacy like this.

This is also discussed on the Education Week blog.

Seclusion and restraint legislation one of 12 items on Coalition Agenda

(Washington D.C.)—The Justice for All Action Network (JFAAN), a coalition of disability-led organizations and allies, applauds proposed legislation that protects students with disabilities from the misuse of seclusions and restraints in schools. Introduced today in the House of Representatives and the Senate, the bill will equip students with disabilities with federal protection from abuse in the schools.

“There is a long history of students with disabilities being subjected to inappropriate and abusive seclusions and restraints,” said Ari Ne-eman of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, a member of the JFAAN Steering Committee. “The legislation introduced today is the first of its kind, going far beyond previous efforts to protect students with disabilities. We look forward to working with House and Senate leaders to pass legislation that addresses each of our concerns and provides students with disabilities with urgently needed protections from abusive seclusions and restraints.”

While the JFAAN Coalition hopes to continue work with House and Senate leaders to ensure that the final legislation is the strongest possible, the bill introduced today is the most comprehensive legislation to date protecting students with disabilities from abuse in the schools.

“We commend Chairman Miller, Representative McMorris Rodgers and Senator Dodd for taking a stand against the barbaric treatment of disabled children and youth that has been allowed to take place in too many schools for too many years. Schools need to educate children without putting students in solitary confinement or using inappropriate and unsafe restraint. When schools become mini-prisons, families have no reason to send their children to school,” said Andrew Imparato, President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities, a member of the JFAAN Steering Committee.

Unlike previous attempts to protect students with disabilities, this legislation applies to all students and bans the worst practices, including mechanical restraint, chemical restraint and physical restraint. “The fact that our children are still subject to abuse is a disgrace,” said Dana Commandatore, the parent of an Autistic child and a supporter of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. “The legislation introduced today is an important step toward ensuring that students with disabilities are protected from abusive restraints and seclusions.”

Legislation that protects people with disabilities from unwarranted seclusions and restraints is a key component of a campaign agenda developed by JFAAN. The 12-point JFAAN Joint Campaign Agenda addresses major policy issues of people with intellectual, physical, psychiatric, developmental and sensory disabilities.

Created in an effort to build a strong and unified cross-disability movement, the Justice for All Action Network is organized into a steering committee of 13 national consumer-led disability organizations and more than 20 organizational and individual members. The group was formed in the wake of the 2008 Presidential Election.

About the Justice for All Action Network

Mission: The Justice for All Action Network is a national cross-disability coalition, led by disability groups run by persons with disabilities with support from allies, committed to building a strong and unified cross-disability movement so that individuals with disabilities have the power to shape national policies, politics, media, and culture.

Working as a coalition, JFAAN is committed to accomplishing each item on the coalition’s agenda by July 2010, the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Steering Committee Members: ADAPT, American Association of People with Disabilities, American Council of the Blind, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Hearing Loss Association of America, Little People of America, National Association of the Deaf, National Coalition of Mental Health Consumer Survivor Organizations, National Council on Independent Living, National Federation of the Blind, Not Dead Yet, Self Advocates Becoming Empowered, United Spinal Association.

For more information, contact Ari Ne-eman, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, (202) 596-1056;
Andy Imparato, American Association of People with Disabilities, (202) 521-4301

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