tony evers

Wisconsin Governor Signs Three Student Safety Bills Into Law

The legislation addresses the use of seclusion and restraints in schools, suicide prevention hotlines on IDs and a new mental health pilot program.

Wisconsin schools will see changes in their approaches to mental health and their policies on seclusion and restraint after Gov. Tony Evers signed three bills into law last week.

Visiting Ashland High School, Evers signed measures requiring K-12 schools and universities to provide information about suicide prevention hotlines on newly issued student IDs, according to The Wisconsin State Journal.

In addition, Evers approved legislation that will require the state’s Department of Public Instruction to keep data on the number of incidents in which students were physically restrained or put into seclusion. Parents must also be informed within three days if their students were placed in seclusion or restrained.

Locks are not allowed to be placed on doors for rooms or areas used for seclusion, and the training requirements for educators allowed to use physical restraints must now prioritize “evidence-based techniques shown to prevent or reduce the use of physical restraints,” according to the governor’s news release.

The legislation came after disability rights advocates argued that there needed to be stronger regulations on what information schools were required to give parents about their students’ treatment. One study in 2014 found that 80 percent of students placed in restraints or seclusion had a disability, the WSJ reported.

Lastly, Evers approved a bill creating a school-based mental health consultation pilot program in Outagamie County. That program is designed to connect school staff with mental health professionals to learn more about managing student mental health in the classroom, when to refer cases to professionals, and how to access more training materials, according to the WSJ. The Medical College of Wisconsin is overseeing the program with plans to possibly expand it across the state.

“Whether it is bullying online, traumatic events at home or in the news, or stress, we know that kids across the state are struggling both in and out of the classroom with their mental health,” Evers said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we know the folks best equipped to help them—our schools and educators— don't always have the resources they need to address this issue and help students.”

He added: “These bills are another step forward in ensuring that our kids feel safe and supported in their classrooms.”

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.

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