By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers on Monday signed into law a bill supported by disability-rights advocates and parents to establish more procedures governing when schools can restrain students or place them in seclusion.
The bill was one of three Evers signed at Ashland High School that he said were a “step forward in ensuring that our kids feel safe and supported in their classrooms.”
One bill, which had bipartisan support, comes after disability-rights advocates called for improvements to a law that allows schools to restrain students if they pose an imminent risk to others’ safety. A study in 2014 found that 80% of the students placed in restraints or in seclusion have a disability.
The new law changes how such incidents are handled, reported and tracked.
Now, the state Department of Public Instruction is required to track the incidences and schools are required to inform parents if their student are ever secluded or restrained. The law also requires additional training for school staff on how to calm students before they become violent, and any door or room being used for seclusion cannot have a lock.
Evers also signed bills that:
— Require public schools, any University of Wisconsin institution or college or technical colleges that issue student IDs to include the number for a local and national suicide-prevention hotline on the cards, in an effort to help combat suicide among young people.
— Set up a new school-based mental health consultation pilot program in Outagamie County.
“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.”