January 31, 2020
Therapeutic Classrooms and Violent Student Behavior
It was quite active this week at the Capitol. I had encouraging conversations regarding proposed legislation with constituents and members from the House and Senate. Some of the highlights of legislation introduced this week dealt with education. Senate Republicans released their proposal of $91.7 million in new K-12 education funding. Also introduced was a bill, SSB 3080, aimed to address therapeutic classrooms and violent student behavior.

I am dedicated to making sure our students and educators are in the best environment possible. This not only means adequate funding, but also the most efficient classroom setting to maximize learning opportunities. The high number of incidents of violence against teachers, classroom disruptions and climate of uncertainty prove the status quo is unsustainable. It is important that something is done to improve these issues.

You may have recently heard reports of "classroom clears" in attempt to deescalate a disruption of a student with an outburst, forcing all of the other students leave the classroom for the length of time it takes to be resolved. This method disrupts the learning of too many students.

SSB 3080 ensures that approach is not included in an individualized education program (IEP) plan. Also, it establishes a plan of action should a classroom clear be used. Parents of students who are displaced in a classroom clear must be notified by the school district and the parents of the student responsible must meet with school administration.

There has been confusion of what least restrictive environment (LRE) means. This bill establishes comprehensive professional development regarding LREs. Through this training, teachers will gain clarity on alternative classroom placement options for students with serious behavioral problems.

Lastly, there is additional training and legal protections for teachers who need to use reasonable contact in crisis situations, as well as professional protections from retaliation for reporting incidents. Teachers will be required to report violent behavior to their principal and are encouraged to report it to the Department of Public Safety.

This policy will have a positive impact on student's learning and also give necessary protection to the safety of both students and teachers. I know that with policies like this, we can maximize Iowa's growth.
Senator Jack Whitver
Senate District 19