AUGUSTA – A public hearing to amend student restraint rules will be held Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the State House.
In response to concerns from superintendents and teachers who say the current regulations go too far, Sen. Tom Saviello, R-Wilton, has introduced an emergency resolve, LD 243, directing the Department of Education to amend the restraint rules.
“We need our educators to focus on teaching again. I am hopeful this bill will allow them to do that while keeping both our students and staff safe in the classroom,” Saviello said in a Maine Education Association statement released Tuesday.
Before the hearing, teachers wearing red shirts with the words “Pride in Public Schools” are expected to appear with Saviello for a press conference in the Hall of Flags.
The public hearing begins at 1 p.m. before the Legislature's Education Committee.
According to the MEA, educators from around the state are expected at the hearing to talk about how the restraint rules are not working.
Currently, a teacher or principal cannot physically restrain a child except in the case of “imminent danger to him/herself or someone else.”
Lewiston and Auburn superintendents have said that means that if a young child is out of control but not a danger to himself or herself or others, the teacher has to leave the child alone and take all the other students out of the classroom. Or if a student is destroying computers but not in danger, he or she must be left alone.
If restraint is used, an educator must file a report. According to the MEA, the restraint rules have led to educator injuries, including a broken nose and knee damage. In addition, the rules have resulted in classroom materials and computers being damaged, according to the MEA.