AUSTIN—In a bipartisan effort to protect Texas school children from needless trauma, Texas State Representative Lacey Hull and State Senator Royce West have teamed up to file legislation preventing children younger than 10 years old from being physically restrained in school settings.
The bills, HB459 and SB133, were filed early Monday, the first day bills can be filed prior to the upcoming 88th Session of the Texas Legislature that begins in January.
Rep. Hull (R-Houston) carried this legislation last session during her first term, and secured the bill’s passage through the House, before it ran up against calendar deadlines in the Texas Senate.
“As I said last session when I filed this bill, we have heard too many tragic stories of children being unnecessarily restrained when there are less harmful methods to handle a behavioral situation,” said Rep. Hull.
Sen. West (D-Dallas), a longtime champion for Texas children, will team with Rep. Hull for the 2023 Session by filing identical bill language in the Senate.
“I’m glad to join Rep. Hull in this effort. This bill is one of my top priorities for this session. No child under 10 should be handcuffed in a school setting. Research says that doing so could cause lifelong trauma to a child. Experiencing such trauma can lead to a greater likelihood of behavioral problems in later years, mental health issues and worse,” Senator West said.
“Oftentimes it is a student with an intellectual or developmental disability where handcuffs are only exacerbating the situation. I truly believe that no officer wants to restrain a child. And officers hard at work protecting our communities should not be called upon to do so when the school can utilize other de-escalation tools,” added Hull.
“This bill is how we can begin to curb the school-to-prison pipeline,” adds Sen. West, who has worked on several pieces of legislation relating to school discipline and best practices in policing during his 30-year tenure in the Texas Senate.
Sen. West also noted that children of color are disproportionally represented in school discipline and in the juvenile justice system.
HB459 and SB133 are supported by a broad coalition that includes law enforcement organizations, disability rights groups and other non-profit organizations.
The two legislators have also worked closely with the Minaret Foundation, an interfaith civic engagement organization. Minaret Spokesperson Noor Saleh stated that “handcuffing children negatively impacts the mental health of everyone involved, and we’re long overdue to acknowledge this crisis. Through this measure, we’re ensuring no child, teacher or officer is ever again traumatized by the decision to restraint children.”