ACLU speaks out on new JPS restraint policies - - Jackson, MS

ACLU speaks out on new JPS restraint policies

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The Jackson school board met Tuesday about policy changes that could affect students when it comes to handling aggressive behavior. Advocacy groups and community members spoke to the trustees about concerns they have with newly proposed policies. 

When student behavior becomes violent or causes an unsafe learning environment, Jackson Public Schools officials say they want to take action that will protect all parties.

They are currently revising those policies on restraint and seclusion. The procedures include mechanical restraints, physical restraints and seclusion as well as preventive strategies.

Tuesday advocacy groups, like the ACLU, community members and other groups petitioned trustees to reexamine those changes.

Some concerns include the need for better definitions and more teacher training. They also expressed concern for the treatment of disabled students.

"Restraint and seclusion are used disproportionately on students with disabilities and students of color with disabilities in Mississippi, said MS Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities Executive Director Pam Dollar. "Students with disabilities are six times as likely to be physically restrained at school compared to non disabled students." 

Parents want better definitions of emergency restraint, mechanical restraint, and specific training methods for teachers and staff. They are also calling for alternative methods.

"Least preventive means, meaning in any other means, talking, other techniques that would teach JPS to use as opposed to handcuffs," said ACLU attorney Charles Irvin.

The new policies, which were on the consent agenda for vote, were pulled by the board president.

"With the superintendent, with the community, with our parents and other interested parties to further engage them and to vet the topic out," said Board President Dr. Otha Burton. "At the end of the day we want what you want and we want what's best for the children." 

The board will discuss the issue again in late January or early February.

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