Story at a glance:

  • Minnesota students, particularly students of color, are commonly subjected to restraints.
    • The state banned face-to-the-ground “prone restraints” on students with disabilities, but pending legislation would add new restrictions.
    • More than 2,800 students were subjected to more than 12,600 instances that involved physical restraint.

The trial of Derek Chauvin — and the guilty verdict — in the murder of George Floyd has opened discussions about the use of prone restraint, the specific hold Chauvin used on Floyd that contributed to his death. 

In Minnesota schools, policymakers and activists are turning their attention to similar restraining tactics that police commonly use on students, The Guardian reported. 

Advocates for police reform often point to the prone restraint as one example of police brutality and racism. But the tactic is also commonplace in Minnesota schools and used on thousands of students, according to data from the state’s department of education. 

The Minnesota department of education reported that in its 2019-20 academic year, more than 2,800 students had 12,600 instances that involved physical restraint.

Policymakers were already aware of dangerous holds, such as the face-to-the-ground “prone restraint,” being applied on children with disabilities in 2015. Officials banned the practice that year. Still, educators insist that there are endless combinations of using harmful submission tactics on students.

Children placed in these restraints face injury and, in rare cases, death.


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“We know it’s happening, we know it’s happening more than we’re aware of, and we know that children are dying as well,” said Lauren Morando Rhim, co-founder and executive director of the Center for Learner Equity, a special education and charter school advocacy group.

New restrictions on how schools can restrain students are pending in the state and federal legislation, including a Minnesota provision prohibiting prone restraint from school-based police.

The Guardian reports that some education leaders believe that the idea of restraining a defiant student is a necessary option for emergencies. But some find the practice to be an overreaching and dangerous disciplinary tool, especially against students of color. Black students in particular experienced 27 percent of physical holds even though they made up only 11.8 percent of the student population. 

“Restraint is a problem across the board and we shouldn’t be surprised that we’re seeing it in schools if we’re seeing it among trained police officers that are not able to de-escalate [situations] and they end up restraining and killing people,” Rhim said.


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Published on Apr 21, 2021