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New WA school restraint bill would help deal with disruptive students

A new bill from Washington state Rep. Jim Walsh seeks to find new options to deal with disruptive students in a way that maintains the integrity of the class and students’ learning.

One of the practices often used by teachers is emptying the classroom of all the students and taking them somewhere else in the building, leaving the disruptive student in the classroom. This method is in place of the previously controversial isolation room, which was used in the Longview School District but has since been limited in Washington and Oregon, reports KATU News.

“My wife worked in public schools in Mukilteo for 30 plus years,” said KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney. “She says the room clearing was designed so the teachers wouldn’t have to handle, or manhandle, or touch, or intervene with the student. You clear away all the other students, they would all go down to the library.”

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“The problem they always had was how to get that kid out of a classroom when you’ve got 29 other kids.”

But the bill and its proponents argue that the room-clearing procedure undermines the learning environment and allows one disruptive student to impact the entire classroom.

“The legislature recognizes that teachers from around the state have consistently expressed a concern that the room clear procedure actually harms the K-12 learning environment because one student’s disruptive behavior negatively impacts an entire class,” the bill reads. “The legislature finds that the harm to the K-12 learning environment would be reduced if the disruptive student were removed from the classroom, allowing the teacher to continue teaching the rest of the class.”

So a student would head to somewhere like the principal’s office, and then come back when they’ve calmed down. That way one student isn’t interrupting the learning of the other 29.

Walsh told KATU News that the bill may not get a hearing during the 2020 legislative session.

Listen to the Tom and Curley Show weekdays from 3 – 7 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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