Staff at Nebraska schools could physically restrain students if new proposal passes

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — A new bill in the Nebraska Legislature would allow school staff to physically restrain students.

Introduced by Sen. Dave Murman, LB 811 authorizes all school personnel to use “reasonable physical intervention” on students to manage their behavior.  

Under the bill, “the only way a teacher can use physical intervention for a student, or I guess any school personnel could use physical intervention, is if the student is presenting a danger to themselves or someone in the classroom,” Murman said. 

He is pushing for a change that has been debated by lawmakers for years.

“The goal is to have all school personnel properly trained so that any kind of intervention, or especially physical intervention, would only happen in the very last resort,” Murman said.  

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska is opposing the effort, which it says students, parents, guardians, and educators have all voiced concerns about.

The nonprofit says the bill “shields staff from any professional or administrative discipline related to their actions so long as they are reasonable — a term it never defines.”

Rose Godinez, ACLU Nebraska’s senior legal & policy counsel, said in a statement:

“It is disheartening to see state senators take another run at passing this misguided bill that could risk kids’ well-being and educational opportunities.  We are particularly concerned about the potential impact on Black and Indigenous students and students with disabilities as they are already more likely to be subjected to discipline and removed from classrooms. As we have said time and time again, the answer is more funding, resources and training for our hardworking educators — not opening the door for school staff to use more physical force on students.  We will oppose this bill every step of the way and will advocate alongside parents, guardians and teachers to protect students’ rights.”

The U.S. Department of Education has previously shared research on school discipline from the Civil Rights Data Collection.

It found that students with disabilities are treated far more harshly than their peers.  The CRDC said they’re more than twice as likely to receive an out-of-school suspension.

It also discovered that 75% of students physically restrained at schools have disabilities.  They make up 25% of students arrested and referred to law enforcement as well.

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