A bill that would allocate state lottery funds to behavioral awareness and intervention training stalled on the second round of debate May 18 after a failed cloture motion.
LB529, introduced by Fremont Sen. Lynne Walz, would allocate lottery funds to more than a dozen education programs for fiscal years 2021-22 through 2025-26.
Under one new program, school districts would ensure that teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, school nurses and counselors receive evidence-based behavioral awareness and intervention training beginning with the 2023-24 school year.
Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh of Omaha filed a motion to recommit the bill to the Education Committee. She said she filed the motion, which failed on a vote of 0-40, to prevent the Legislature from considering a “poison pill” amendment introduced by Sen. Dave Murman of Glenvil.
The amendment would authorize teachers, administrators and other school personnel to use an “emergency safety intervention,” defined in part as a “physical intervention intended to hold a student immobile or limit a student’s movement,” in order to protect the student or another person from physical injury.
An emergency safety intervention could be used only to protect people from harm or secure property if such action would protect a student, school personnel or other person from imminent serious physical injury.
Teachers and other personnel would not be subject to professional or administrative discipline for harm caused by an act or omission related to the use of an emergency safety intervention unless it was caused by gross negligence.
The amendment also would require each school district to create and adopt a classroom removal policy describing when and how a teacher could request that a school administrator remove a disruptive student from a classroom and when the student may return to the classroom.
Murman said the amendment was the result of negotiations with school groups and advocates for those with disabilities. He said it is intended to protect all students and school employees.
North Platte Sen. Mike Groene said the amendment would ensure classroom safety. He said the main component of LB529 — the proposed behavioral awareness and intervention training — would be unnecessary unless lawmakers also authorized teachers to use emergency safety interventions.
Sen. John Arch of La Vista said Murman’s proposal would provide clear guidance for teachers and allow them to restrain a student only when the student’s actions threaten serious injury to another person.
Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen said the amendment would allow teachers who injure students to avoid administrative or professional discipline as long as their actions were not grossly negligent, which he called an “incredibly high standard.”
“That’s not a standard I can even come close to supporting,” he said.
Additionally, Hansen said, certain groups that advocate for those with disabilities were not included in discussions that led to Murman’s proposal and they have concerns about its provisions.
Sen. Terrell McKinney of Omaha said the amendment would give “immunity” to teachers who injure students. McKinney said he was not included in the negotiations, even though school discipline disproportionately affects minority students.
“How could you have a compromise without inviting those that are representing communities that are most affected to the table?” he said.
After four hours of select file debate, Walz filed a motion to invoke cloture, which would end debate and force a vote on the bill and any pending amendments. The motion failed on a vote of 28-11. Thirty-three votes were needed.
A failed cloture motion results in debate on a proposal ceasing for the day. LB529 is unlikely to be placed on the agenda again this session.