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Governor Newsom Signs Bill to Protect Students with Disabilities in Non-public Schools - October 7, 2019

Governor Newsom Signs Bill to Protect Students with Disabilities in Non-public Schools

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 1172 last Wednesday authored by Assemblymember Jim Frazier. In 2018, a student in El Dorado Hills died after he reportedly stopped breathing after being placed in a prone restraint for over an hour. The California State Council on Developmental Disabilities was pleased to testify in support of the bill that takes important steps forward to protecting students attending non-public schools.

AB 1172 adds safeguards to enhance student safety by requiring on-site monitoring visits to non-public schools, requiring non-public schools to report incidents involving law enforcement to the California Department of Education (CDE), and allowing CDE to suspend or revoke the certification of a non-public school if the health or safety of a student is being compromised.

“I am delighted to hear Governor Newsom signed AB 1172. We are grateful for Assemblymember Frazier and Superintendent Thurmond’s leadership to ensure our students including those with intellectual or developmental disabilities are protected in school” stated Maria Marquez, Interim Chairperson of the Council.

Assemblymember Frazier responded to the signing of AB 1172 by stating, “I want to thank the Governor for signing AB 1172, legislation that will ensure the safety of students at specialized nonpublic schools. The most vulnerable students in our state deserve a safe place to learn,” said Assemblymember Jim Frazier. “I am also grateful to Superintendent Tony Thurmond for his partnership on this issue. Our exceptional students benefit from expanded educational opportunities and I look forward to collaborating with the Superintendent on this subject in the future.”

Video of AB 1172 in Assembly Education Committee (April 24, 2019): https://youtu.be/dewxc0oGup0

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Governor Newsom Signs State Council Sponsored Apprenticeship Bill into Law - August 2, 2019

Governor Newsom Signs State Council Sponsored Apprenticeship Bill into Law

SACRAMENTO – The State Council on Developmental Disabilities (SCDD) commends Governor
Newsom for signing AB 1019 into law. AB 1019 was authored by Assemblymember Jim Frazier and
sponsored by SCDD. This bill amends the California Labor Code to expand membership of the Division of
Apprenticeship Standards’ Interagency Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship (IACA) to include the
Director of the California Department of Rehabilitation and the Executive Director of the State Council on
Developmental Disabilities.

“We are excited to welcome the Director of the California Department of Rehabilitation and the Executive
Director of the State Council on Developmental Disabilities as ex officio members of the IACA. Their
addition to the IACA will be an invaluable resource for us as we continue to expand State Registered
Apprenticeship opportunities in California,” stated Eric Rood, Chief of the Division of Apprenticeship
Standards (DAS).

AB 1019 also requires the creation of a subcommittee to address apprenticeships for people with
disabilities. The IACA was created in 2018 by AB 235 with the goal of fostering, promoting, and
developing opportunities for competitive employment through apprenticeships.

“Apprenticeships are not only crucial to the success of our economy, but also provide an important career
pathway and opportunity toward competitive integrated employment for workers with and without
disabilities. The Department of Rehabilitation looks forward to working with all stakeholders to jointly build
and advance a strong and inclusive workforce in California,” stated Joe Xavier, Director of the Department
of Rehabilitation.

“Apprenticeships provide an important avenue to opening competitive employment opportunities to people
with disabilities. The Council looks forward to joining the IACA and working together to create new
opportunities by formally connecting these pathways to employment,” stated Maria Marquez, SCDD
Interim Chair. “The State Council is grateful for the leadership of Governor Newsom and
Assemblymember Frazier.

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SCDD Mourns Death of Student in El Dorado County - December 12, 2018

SCDD MOURNS DEATH OF STUDENT IN EL DORADO COUNTY

SACRAMENTO – The State Council on Developmental Disabilities (SCDD) mourns the death of the student at Guiding Hands School in El Dorado Hills who reportedly stopped breathing after being placed in a prone restraint for over an hour and died at the hospital.[1] A prone restraint involves immobilizing a student in a face down position.

“The news reports that the school placed the student in a prone restraint for over an hour. An emergency does not last an hour. I cannot fathom any reason this student would be a danger for an hour. We cannot expect students to learn if they go to school and fear for their safety. The death of the student warrants a full and robust investigation,” stated Sandra Smith, SCDD Chairperson. SCDD opposes all forms of restraint and seclusion in schools. 

The California Department of Education has suspended the certification of the Guiding Hands private school. The K-12 school provides special education and related services to children with disabilities. State records show the school had 137 students and 16 full-time staff as of the 2017-2018 school year. In 2018, the County Sheriff’s Department has been called to respond to incidents at Guiding Hands School a total of 27 times for a variety of reasons. According to court records, the school has been sued before for restraining a student. In 2002 and 2003, the school staff forcibly restrained another teenage student multiple times.

This past year, Governor Brown signed AB 2657 which looks to prevent and reduce the use of restraint and seclusion in schools except in cases of serious physical harm. While prone restraints are banned for use in schools in other states, they are still legal in certain circumstances in California, but the student must be monitored. Both the California statute and the proposed federal legislation, the Keeping All Students Safe Act (H.R.7124 / S.3626) prohibit the use of a physical restraint that that restricts breathing. The dangers of physical restraint are well-documented. A 2002 investigation by Disability Rights California into the use of restraints in schools and other institutions found that “prone restraint,” is a “hazardous and potentially lethal restraint position” that puts people at risk of asphyxia.

“The use of restraint is serious and pervasive problem that deserves a systematic and comprehensive response. Every student must be treated with dignity and be safe in school,” stated Aaron Carruthers, SCDD Executive Director. The U.S. Department of Education shows 122,000 students across the nation were restrained or secluded in 2015-2016.[2]  The use of restraint and seclusion disproportionally impacts students with disabilities. “This practice is unacceptable,” stated Carruthers.

[1] https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/education/article222733345.html 

[2] https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/school-climate-and-safety.pdf