A bill that would put into law that teachers and other school personnel may use reasonable physical intervention to safely manage the behavior of students got about three hours of debate Tuesday afternoon but no vote.
The bill (LB147), introduced by Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte, is the answer for teachers, parents and students to protect them from physical injury, he said.
"Education cannot occur without a safe and focused learning environment where all children can maximize their learning experience," he said.
The bill also would allow physical intervention to take property in a student's possession if it poses a threat of physical injury to another person.
The intervention could not be used to inflict harm as a penalty for a student's disapproved behavior.
Groene said teachers have communicated they wanted a safe working environment. School personnel wanted training to know how to deescalate situations before they became violent, and that they would have community support, he said.
The amendment to the bill, prioritized by Sen. Dave Murman, will include Murman's bill (LB998) that would require school districts to provide behavioral training to all school employees.
"I have heard from school personnel that have been kicked, hit, bitten, spit upon, slapped, punched or worse," Murman said. "One teacher had a traumatic brain injury due to a student who assaulted her."
Sen. Justin Wayne, who opposed the bill, said it will destroy the relationship between parents and teachers, students and teachers, schools and their communities. And giving immunity to teachers creates a distrust, he said.
No teacher or personnel could be subject to professional or administrative discipline for the use of physical intervention if it was reasonable, according to the bill. The immunity would begin as soon as the bill is in effect, but the training would take place over four to five years, Wayne said.
There is a disparity in our education system, Wayne said.
"You can't recognize the problem and say we have to find a solution and then vote yes on this bill," he said. "You cannot say we need to start prison reform and then vote for this bill.
The bill will return to debate for another three hours if Groene can show he has the 33 votes to get the bill from filibuster to a vote.