A bill that would authorize teachers to physically intervene when a student is harming others failed to advance past the first round of debate July 30 after a failed cloture motion.
Under LB147, as introduced last session by North Platte Sen. Mike Groene, teachers and administrators could “use the necessary physical contact or physical restraint” to control a student who becomes physically violent.
Groene introduced an amendment on general file that would replace the bill. It would authorize teachers and other school personnel to “use reasonable physical intervention to safely manage the behavior of a student” to protect the student or another person from physical injury or to secure property in the student’s possession if it poses a threat of physical injury to the student or another person.
Additionally, the amendment would require each school district to have a policy describing a process for removing a student from a class and then returning the student to a class.
Like the original bill, the amendment would protect teachers and other school personnel from professional or administrative discipline for using physical intervention or removing a student from a class as long as those actions were reasonable and in accordance with school policy.
The proposal includes amended provisions of LB998, introduced by Sen. Dave Murman of Glenvil. They would require each school district to offer annual behavioral awareness and intervention training to teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, school nurses and counselors beginning with the 2021-22 school year.
Groene said the amendment has been endorsed by groups representing teachers, administrators and school boards across the state and that the proposed training was developed, in part, by experts at Boys Town.
He said teachers and other school staff regularly use such physical interventions already, but most have no training or school policy to guide them.
“They’re out there trying to do the best they can with no guidance from us,” Groene said. “We owe them some help.”
Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln opposed the amendment, saying it had not been vetted by the Education Committee or by groups that advocate for children with disabilities.
She agreed that teachers should be trained to deescalate dangerous situations in the classroom but said current case law already allows them to use reasonable force to protect themselves and others.
“The problem is [that]—and we’ve discussed this with the teachers multiple times—they are not told that in the schools,” Pansing Brooks said.
After several hours of debate on general file, Groene offered a motion to invoke cloture, which ceases debate and forces a vote on a bill. The motion failed on a vote of 32-15. Thirty-three votes were needed.
LB147 is unlikely to be scheduled for further debate this session.