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Miss. school officials closer to voting on restraint policy

JACKSON, Miss. -- The Mississippi Department of Education is moving forward with a proposed policy to regulate when schools can use seclusion or restraints on unruly students, according to a newspaper report.

The Clarion-Ledger reported Sunday that the agency plans to have a task force create a final draft of a proposal written last month in response to some teachers' controversial discipline practices.

Is it child abuse or productive discipline?

The proposed policy would prohibit school districts from using chemical restraints, such as sedatives, or mechanical restraints like straps, the paper reported. It added that physical restraint or seclusion would only be allowed if the child's behavior poses "imminent danger" to the child or to others. All incidences also would have to be recorded, and the child's parents would have to be notified, according to the report.

"I think it's long overdue," said 3rd District U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, the Republican congressman who in 2013 co-sponsored federal legislation establishing minimum standards for the practice. It didn't pass.

Board members won't vote on the policy until after a mandatory public comment period.

If the proposal is adopted, Mississippi would join several other states that implemented similar policies after U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urged school districts in 2012 to review the matter.

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