New rules governing the restraint of students in public schools have gone too far and need to be changed less than a year after they were instituted, according to educators who gathered Wednesday at the State House.
Chapter 33 of the Maine Department of Education’s rules has been a focus of lawmakers and the department since at least 2010 after complaints from parents about their children being physically restrained and, in some cases, secluded in “safe rooms.” The Legislature formed a stakeholder’s group instead of enacting a bill that was proposed at the time. The recommendations were put into law in March of 2012, but began to attract widespread criticism as soon as the current school year began last fall.
The Department of Education told the Bangor Daily News in November 2012 that because of timing and the fact that the department had already gone through a rulemaking process, if there are to be more changes to Chapter 33, they will have to be made by the Legislature. Despite that, Sen. Thomas Saviello, R-Wilton, has proposed a resolve directing the Department of Education to amend its rules.
“Teachers want to teach,” said Saviello during a press conference Wednesday morning. “The way Chapter 33 was written, it took that ability out of their hands. Chapter 33 is well intended but it needs to be clarified. It needs to be modified to allow our teachers to teach again.”