LANSING — State Representative Frank Liberati (D-Allen Park) joined Lt. Gov. Brian Calley in testifying in support of House Bills 5409-5418, legislation he and a bipartisan group of legislators took one year to craft and introduced last month. The legislation would limit the use of restraint and seclusion in all Michigan schools to emergency situations.
“This legislation works to strike a balance between respecting the dignity of students and staff and ensuring their safety,” said Liberati, who is the father of a child with special needs. “In 2006, the State Board of Education set standards limiting the application use of restraint and seclusion to emergency situations, but those standards don’t carry the weight of Michigan law and are not applied equally across the state.”
“This legislation is long overdue,” said Elmer L. Cerano, executive director of Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service, a nonprofit advocacy organization. “Public schools are still the only service system where these dangerous practices remain unregulated and unreported. The bills before the committee strike a good balance between the legitimate needs of educators and the safety of children.”
Reforms within the 10 bill package, which were introduced in March, also include:
- Establishing a positive behavioral support system and intervention plan that would be adopted by all schools.
- Requiring districts and intermediate school districts to create policies that align with the statewide plan.
- Defining appropriate requirements for the use of seclusion and restraint methods in emergency situations and requires reporting of instances.
- Creating reporting requirements associated with the use of these practices.
- Creating best practices for data collection on incidents and school training requirements for emergencies.
The Special Education Reform Task Force, on which Liberati served as a member, recommended reforms to the governor in February. Included in their recommendations were to restrict the use of restraint and seclusion to specified emergency situations.