by Samantha Martinez, Idaho Reports
The House Education Committee introduced a bill on Monday that would provide public school faculty and staff with clear legal direction on the meanings and utilization of restraint and seclusion.
Under Idaho Code, the current law directs teachers to adopt any reasonable rules for maintaining classroom discipline.
Sponsor Rep. Marco Erickson, R-Idaho Falls, told the committee he authored the proposal because of his own experience in working with students with more difficult behavioral issues, and because of concerns from the parents of these students.
“I did a lot of consulting with teachers in helping with professional development, understanding how to manage some really difficult kids,” Erickson said. “The tough kids that often go unloved.”
Rep. Steve Berch, D-Boise, expressed concerns with the wording of the bill regarding corporal punishment. The bill states that corporal punishment may only be used in certain instances where a student’s behavior has placed himself/herself or others in impending danger.
The bill clearly defines different forms of restraint, such as chemical and mechanical restraint. It also describes the meanings of corporal punishment and seclusion, and when they are appropriate to employ.
Erickson explained that corporal punishment sounds harsh and is meant to be used only in instances where an individual may have to grab a student to stop them from putting themselves or others in a dangerous situation, such as running out of a building. He wanted to make sure this type of action is allowed in instances of safety concerns, but assured the committee it isn’t meant to be used as a form of punishment.
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, corporal punishment is lawful in 19 states.
The bill also outlines that staff will receive yearly professional training concerning constructive behavior supports, methods for de-escalation, and handling classroom behavior.
The bill still needs a public hearing before moving forward.