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Update (3/3/2010): Today, the US House of Representatives passed HR 4247 by a vote of 262-153 with 16 members not voting. The bill now proceeds to the Senate. Please read the following information and be prepared to take action.

HR 4247, a bill authored by California Congressman George Miller, addresses the use of physical restraint and seclusion in schools. While the intent of the bill—to ensure the safety and protect the well-being of students—is admirable, there is little or no evidence suggesting that the abusive uses of student seclusion and restraint the legislation seeks to address occur with any degree of frequency in private independent and religious schools. In fact, virtually every instance of such abuse reported to have taken place in the government study that prompted the bill, occurred in a psychiatric, residential, or similar institution operated to educate children with special needs.

If passed in its current form, HR 4247 would impose multiple unfunded mandates involving staff training, monitoring and reporting, upon any private school enrolling students who receive support in any form from funds appropriated by the US Department of Education. Any private school enrolling even a single student receiving Title I services would, thus, become subject to the provisions of the proposed law. Such a "trigger" will, undoubtedly, discourage private schools from facilitating participation in federal programs intended to benefit children. HR 4247 may also have the unintended effect of making school staff members reluctant to break up a playground scuffle, or grab a student about to dash into a car lane during after-school pick-up.

CAPSO joins the Council for American Private Education in encouraging its members and their constituents to express opposition to the unfunded mandates imposed upon private schools without justification by HR 4247.

HR 4247 will next be considered in the US Senate. CAPSO, in concert with CAPE will follow the bill's progress, and will advise members of the private school community of appropriate next steps.

CAPSO thanks those of you who expressed concern to your US Representative regarding the unprecedented and troubling provisions contained in the bill. Please check our website for additional updates concerning HR 4247.

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