This week, state Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, brought back her bill “to prohibit seclusion and provide stricter guidelines for the use of physical restraint for students with disabilities in Florida schools.”
Book filed her bill and showcased it on Tuesday, noting that it “proposes a pilot video monitoring program for self-contained classrooms, provides for additional training for staff, and more” and pointing to “several high profile stories of alleged abuse in Florida’s special education classrooms.”
The state senator pointed to “more than 78,000 incidents of restraint and nearly 21,000 incidents of seclusion reported in Florida between 2010 (when the reporting system was developed) and 2020” while insisting these “types of incidents can lead to students suffering bleeding or bone fractures, in addition to the psychological trauma of the experience.”
“Students deserve to be safe at school, and parents deserve peace of mind,” Book said. “While the majority of our special education school professionals provide caring and safe learning environments for students with disabilities, we have unfortunately seen serious abuses committed as well. This bill will ensure students with disabilities are not placed into dangerous situations including seclusion and restraint while in Florida classrooms.”
“It is our responsibility to protect all children, especially those that cannot speak for or stand up for and protect themselves,” said Jason Segelbaum, the father of a special needs child. “Our son, Max, is non-verbal and like many other special needs children has limited communication abilities, he has no way of letting the adults know when he is being hurt, mistreated or abused. The only way for us to protect our most vulnerable children is to place cameras in their classrooms to be the eyes and ears for them.”
This is the fourth time Book has introduced the bill though her chances might be better in 2021. Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Spring Hill, recently tapped Book to lead the Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee.
First elected to the Florida Senate in 2016, Book represents parts of Broward County.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.