In 2009, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote to state superintendents about the “abusive and potentially deadly misapplication of seclusion and restraint techniques in schools.”  He urged each state to “review its current policies and guidelines regarding the use of restraints and seclusion in schools to ensure every student is safe and protected.”

In Michigan, seven years after Secretary Duncan’s letter and 13 years after two students died while being restrained in school, the school system remains the only service system where these practices remain unregulated and unreported. Policy reform is needed that will:

  • Apply to all students.
  • Ban seclusion.  Seclusion is inherently coercive and potentially harmful and has no demonstrated educational value.
  • If allowed at all, limit the use of restraint to unforeseeable emergencies involving significant risk of substantial harm to self or others.  Restraint should never be part of a behavior support plan.
  • Prohibit practices that are inherently dangerous or used for punishment; require training to protect safety of students.
  • Require public reporting of aggregate use.
  • Integrate the State Board of Education’s policy on school-wide positive behavior support.
  • Make necessary changes to state law or regulation to make the policy effective.