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In Progress: Researching Michigan Board of Education policy on the use of restraints and seclusion in schools

I am investigating the Michigan Board of Education policy mentioned in the CDC Public Health Law News Archive. Unfortunately the news articles no longer work.

"A way to safely restrain students?"
Detroit Free Press (12/08/06) Lori Higgins

In 2003, following the death of an autistic student who had been physically restrained by school staff, the Michigan Department of Education drafted rules on the use of restraints and seclusion in schools. The policies applied only to special-education students and allowed staff to physically restrict the movement of violent students and seclude them in a room. Yesterday, the state Board of Education was to consider its fourth version of the policy this year. Special-education advocates hope for a ban on "inhumane practices," while educators want a way to address children with "challenging behaviors." Kathleen Straus, Board president, said she believes the proposed policy strikes a good compromise. If approved, the policy would apply to all students and would restrict the use of seclusion and restraints to emergency situations. The proposal would require that schools document each instance in which seclusion or restraints are used, and would ban prone (face down) restraint, or restraint in any manner that would affect a student's ability to breathe. "These practices are inherently dangerous," said Mark McWilliams, director of education advocacy for the Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service. But some guardians of potentially violent children worry that schools would bar students if educators do not have the ability to protect themselves. Some educators are concerned that the new policy would place too many restrictions on them. "We're concerned that classroom teachers and administrators ... would not have the tools they need in potentially explosive situations," said Tony Derezinski, of the Michigan Association of School Boards.

[Editor's note: The Michigan Board of Education approved the policy yesterday. See: "Student-restraint policy calls for training, reporting"
Kalamazoo Gazette (12/13/06) Judy Putnam http://www.mlive.com/news/kzgazette/index.ssf?/base/news-20/1166026802279240.xml&coll=7]

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