Bill to limit use of restraints on children in New Mexico schools

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A state lawmaker is proposing a bill that would limit the use of restraints used on children in New Mexico schools.

There have been a number of lawsuits in recent years over the way special needs students have been restrained. In 2010, surveillance cameras caught an Albuquerque Public Schools teacher and an educational assistant slamming a special needs student into a wall, trying to restrain him.

Also, another lawsuit was filed after APS Police handcuffed a 7-year-old autistic boy to a chair.

Opponents to the practices say different disabilities call for different calming methods.

State Rep. James Smith, an East Mountain High School teacher, has introduced a bill that would limit the use of restraint or confinement of a student to only emergency situations. That includes any student, but outlines specific rules for special needs students.

The bill says the school needs to come up with a plan for each individual special needs student based on their individual circumstances and their parents must be informed of that plan and notified of any incidents.

Rep. Smith also wants to require schools to report each incident where restraint is used to the state.

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