Missouri lawmaker files bill to end student seclusion

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ST. LOUIS – State Rep. Ian Mackey, D-Clayton, filed legislation on Friday to stop the seclusion of students in Missouri’s K-12 schools. House Bill 1677 aims to prevent every public or charter school in the state of Missouri from placing students in solitary confinement.

Mackey, a former teacher, said that while educators need to daily strategize on how to manage disruptive, challenging, and even violent behavior from students, some schools resort to excessive punishment through seclusion techniques, resulting in worse long-term outcomes.

FOX 2’s Mitch McCoy interviewed a mother whose child was subjected to this form of punishment, and she stated that her son now suffers from PTSD due to the experience.

Shealyn Fox’s son has post-traumatic stress disorder and has been forced to isolate at school before.

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“Being grabbed, being held, even when it’s important for the other kids in school, even when it’s important for safety, it’s terrifying for them,” Fox said in an interview in May.

Mackey sponsored a bill called HB 432 that was signed into law in 2021, requiring school districts to closely monitor the use of seclusion and report it to parents and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

As a result, Mackey reports that last school year, students were secluded in solitary confinement over 8,000 times, at least. While that represents only a fraction of students enrolled in schools across the state, Mackey believes this highlights the urgent need to end this practice now.

In McCoy’s Fox Files report in May, he stated that as of March 2023, 191 school districts have reported having at least one student physically restrained or isolated out of Missouri’s 556 public school districts and charter schools. That’s only 34%.

McCoy said that Fox 2 had reached out to some other local schools on the state’s list, only to be told they reported numbers months ago and didn’t know why they were on the state’s non-reporting list.

Special School District of St. Louis County Executive Director of Communications Jennifer Henry said it works with 22 county school districts to ensure that restraint/seclusion incidents are properly reported but the district has found a “reporting gap” with nine of their partner school districts after FOX 2 reached out.

This video in this article is from McCoy’s Fox File report on May 8, 2023.


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