Bills would ban restraint, seclusion in schools

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and state lawmakers unveiled a package of 10 bills Tuesday that would end the use of restraint and seclusion practices in schools except for emergencies.

During a press conference, Calley said all students deserve a safe and positive environment without the threat of being restrained or isolated from their classmates.

At the podium, he was flanked by a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the House and Senate, including Sen. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, and Rep. Frank Liberati, D-Allen Park, who is the father of a special needs son, Antonio.

“The state took up this issue 10 years ago and a policy went into effect that limited the use of restraints to emergency situations,” said Calley. “Today, we want to codify that policy into law to replace the ineffective and outdated policy of using restraints in nonemergency situations.”

Liberati spoke proudly about his son, mentioning his unique personality and emphasizing the need for the bill package.

“My son was elected homecoming king at Allen Park High School last year,” he said. “This legislation works to strike a balance between respecting the dignity of students and staff and ensuring their safety.”

All members of the Disabilities Awareness Caucus and members of the Special Education Reform Task Force participated in introducing the legislation. It clarifies the intervention that should be taken in case of an emergency. The Special Education Reform Task Force, which Calley chaired, recommended the measures in February to Gov. Rick Snyder.

The bill package, to be introduced Tuesday in both chambers of the legislature, would:

— Require districts and intermediate school districts to develop policies that follow the state plan.

— Define the conditions under which seclusion and restraint could be used during emergencies and require that such incidents be reported.

— Establish a “positive behavioral support system and intervention plan” to be adopted by all schools.

— Create best practices for data collection on incidents and school training requirements for emergencies.

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