Guidelines on Seclusion and Restraint of Students Adopted by the Michigan Schools

Written by Patricia Hawke for

In December 2006, the Michigan schools board approved a new measure that affects students within the Michigan schools — the use of seclusion and restraint for unruly students.
These disorderly control techniques have been used within the Michigan schools for several years; however, parents and educators, alike, have been clamoring for more definitive guidelines on their use in order to protect both the students and the educators who must employ their use.
The adoption of new state standards on the matter by the Michigan schools board in December comes after a year-long study by a group of educators, parents and advocates. The group gathered extensive testimony and discussion from the public over several months. Advocates on all sides were heard. According to Michigan schools president Kathleen Strauss, there were many people on both sides of the debate — some who wanted to keep their use, some who wanted them eliminated, and others who wanted their use modified and/or more tightly regulated.
The new seclusion and restraint standards provide guidance to those who must implement them and definitions of appropriate situations for their use. The standards outline general awareness training requirements for all Michigan schools’ staff, including pre-service training for teachers new to the Michigan schools. They also provide for comprehensive training for key identified personnel in each of the Michigan schools.
The standards provide clearly outlined procedures for giving a problem student a way out of the situation and require that specific school staff be present during the use of either seclusion or restraint of a student. They clearly outline the limitations and acceptable, emergency conditions for use of seclusion and/or restraint of a Michigan schools’ student.
The Michigan schools now prohibit any practices that could cause harm to a student. The standards do not allow for prone restraint of a Michigan schools’ student, which is on the floor and face down. A student is not allowed to be secluded or restrained in any manner that could restrict his/her breathing, whether on the floor, standing, sitting, bending over, or kneeling. The standards prohibit seclusion of preschool children.
Michigan schools board member Reginald Turner noted that the adoption of these standards was not intended to encourage the use of these control techniques. Rather, because there were no previous regulation of seclusion and restraint, the new standards are to limit their use and control how they are used.
Additionally, the Michigan schools board standards require notification of all uses of seclusion and restraint. Each of the Michigan schools must keep accurate records concerning each use of seclusion and restraint, and they must develop reports that give accurate accountings of their use for submission to the board.
Parents and educators both see this move by the Michigan schools board as a positive one. With limitations and conditions for the use of seclusion and restraint, the safety of the children in the Michigan schools become the priority, while each school retains the ability to restore order to their environment with last resort measures. Hands are not tied, and the children are safe. You cannot ask for a better solution.