DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa lawmakers took a big step Monday toward addressing a nationwide problem.
For months, Channel 13 has reported on violent, destructive behavior in America’s classrooms and the controversial practice known as the “room clear.” That is when well-behaved students are evacuated while a child is allowed to destroy the classroom. State Senator Amy Sinclair filed a bill in the Iowa Senate to address this problem. It contains five areas that she thinks can improve bad behavior in classrooms.
The bill would implement training for teachers on violent student behaviors and how to spot the warning signs before it gets out of control. Sinclair wants to establish guidelines and expectations for appropriate responses to behavior in the classroom that presents an imminent threat of bodily injury to another person. The bill would create protections for teachers who have to deal with violent behavior and establish an easier, more accurate way to report that behavior.
The bill would also create alternative placement classrooms. A lot of schools have moved away from alternative classes. Instead, students who need that specialized teaching are ending up in general education classrooms. Sinclair wants to clear up the notion of “least restrictive environment.” That’s a federal term for where students with special needs should be placed at the start of each school day. She wants administrators to understand what that means and what it does not mean.
Though Sinclair says she “can’t legislate good parenting,” the bill does include a requirement that if a child causes a room clear, then the child and the parents of the child will have to meet with administrators prior to the child going back into the regular classroom.
“I think these are common sense, practical measures. I’ve talked to more educators, more parents, more administrators on this bill than probably any bill I’ve ever worked on because it is that important. The balancing act for providing an education for all students is so important. No one needs left out in the cold on their education,” said Sinclair.
Sinclair says she believes she will have bipartisan support for the bill. Senator Majority Leader Jack Whitver said the bill is a priority for the Senate
You can read the full bill here.