MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers on Monday signed into law a bill supported by disability rights advocates and parents that would establish more procedures for when schools restrain a student or place them in seclusion.
The bill was one of three Evers signed at Ashland High School that he said were a “step forward in ensuring that our kids feel safe and supported in their classrooms.”
One bill, which had bipartisan support, comes after the disability rights community advocated for improvements to the law that allows for a student to be physically restrained if they pose an imminent risk to others’ safety. A study in 2014 found that 80% of the students placed in restraints or in seclusion have a disability.
The new law changes how such incidents are handled, reported and tracked.
Now, the state Department of Public Instruction is required to track the incidences and schools have to inform parents if their student are ever secluded or restrained. The law also requires additional training for school staff on how to calm students before they become violent, and any door or room being used for seclusion cannot have a lock.
Evers also signed bills that:
— Require public schools, any University of Wisconsin institution or college or technical colleges that issue student IDs to include the number for a local and national suicide prevention hotline on the cards, in an effort to help combat suicide among young people.
— Create a new school-based mental health consultation pilot program in Outagamie County.
“Whether it is bullying online, traumatic events at home or in the news, or stress, we know that kids across the state are struggling both in and out of the classroom with their mental health,” Evers said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we know the folks best equipped to help them—our schools and educators — don’t always have the resources they need to address this issue and help students.”