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Michigan State Board of Education Adopts Guidelines On Seclusion/Restraint Use

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MIRS, December 12, 2006

After nearly two years of study, public comments and four drafts, and further fine-tuning of the policies today, the State Board of Education unanimously adopted state standards to guide schools in the emergency use of seclusion and restraint of students.

Until today's action, the State Board of Education has had no policy or definition relating to this issue. The vote was 7-0. Board member Elizabeth BAUER, who has been adamantly opposed to the use of seclusion in schools, is in Serbia, working with its school system on the same issue.

Board member Reginald TURNER said that seclusion and restraint are being used in the schools today and that people are crying out for guidelines that protect students. “This policy is not to encourage seclusion and restraint but to limit its usage in our schools,” Turner said.

Today's discussion centered more on the training of schoolteachers and personnel and accountability issues than the use of seclusion and restraint itself.

Board members Eileen WEISER and Nancy DANHOF said they couldn't vote in favor of the guidelines unless there was some assurance that proper training in the use of seclusion and restraint was included.

“I can't vote to put this out in the field without Positive Behavioral Support training,” Weiser said.

Danhof had a problem with the use of emergency restraint by personnel who are not properly trained.

Turner acknowledged that training is the second component of the issue, but argued that the policy outlining the use of seclusion and restraint should not be put on hold because “we can't ensure everyone be trained.” Turner added that the Board is going to have to work very closely with the Legislature to make sure resources are available for training procedures.

Weiser was successful in having added to the policy document a requirement that within four months, the Department of Education research and report to the Board the feasibility and timetable for requiring Positive Behavioral Support training for all Michigan teacher candidates in all teacher preparation institutions as well as linking seclusion and restraint reports to individual teacher license renewals.

The guidelines limit the use of seclusion and restraint only to emergency situations; prohibit the use of prone restraint, bans any kind of restraint that restricts breathing; prohibits the use of seclusion for preschool children and limits the length of time emergency seclusion can be used. Any emergency intervention plan that requires the use of emergency seclusion must be developed in partnership with the parent.

The Board also is calling for the required notification, record keeping, and development of reports in all cases of seclusion and restraint.

The guidelines, titled Supporting Student Behavior: Standards for the Emergency Use of Seclusion and Restraint is available on the State Board of Education Web site at:

In other action, the State Board approved state standards for quality infant and toddler programs that provide the framework for Michigan to improve its early childhood programs and services.

The first-ever state standards provide definitions of highest quality programs for babies and toddlers when they are cared for in child care centers and homes by adults other than their parents. These standards build on the minimum requirements set forth in state licensing rules.


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