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Classrooms in Crisis: Safe classrooms bill passes Oregon Senate

SB 963 would allow teachers to “physically assist” disruptive students to safety.

SALEM, Ore. — A bill that would change how teachers can handle classroom disruptions passed the Oregon State Senate on Monday.

We’ve been tracking several bills related to our Classrooms in Crisis coverage on disruptive learning happening in schools across the state, including Senate Bill 963.

SB 963 would allow teachers to “physically assist” disruptive students to safety.

Under current Oregon law teachers can only touch a student when there is a “threat of imminent serious bodily injury to someone.”

RELATED: Classrooms in Crisis: Educators of special needs students sue districts

The law was passed in 2011 in response to an increased number of special needs students being retrained or put in isolation rooms.

Teachers say the law was interpreted to mean they can’t touch students at all so they’re forced to do things like “herding,” which means guiding a student to safety without touching them, even if they run away from the building.

SB 963, co-sponsored by Representative Brian Clem of Salem, would allow teachers to physically assist students without fear of getting sued.

"They don't have to be restrained and grabbed, but physically assisted to the principal's office, physically assisted to the time out area,” said Clem.

SB 963 heads to the house for the next vote.

We’ve received an overwhelming response to our Classrooms in Crisis investigative series and are committed to telling these stories and pushing for solutions. 

Do you have an idea or comment? Please let us know. Email: Callcristin@kgw.com

KGW has interviewed dozens of teachers and school administrators about an increase in verbal, physical and sometimes violent disruptions in Oregon and Southwest Washington classrooms. We’ve received emails from hundreds of additional teachers who tell similar stories. Many teachers say they don’t have the proper training, support or resources to deal with this disruptive behavior. The teachers don’t blame the kids, pointing out that many students have suffered trauma in their lives; however, they say the current law makes it difficult to handle these incidents effectively. In many cases they are forced to clear all other students out of a classroom until a disruptive student can calm down. We will continue to tell these stories and push for solutions from lawmakers and school officials. 

Do you have a comment or idea related to our Classrooms in Crisis coverage? Please email callcristin@kgw.com

Please share this link to our Classrooms in Crisis section to keep the conversation going. https://www.kgw.com/classrooms-in-crisis

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