House Bills 5409-5417 designed to provide positive policy reforms for quality, inclusive education

LANSING, Mich. — Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D–Taylor) has announced that the Senate Education Committee passed House Bills 5409-5417 today. The nine-bill package outlines when seclusion and restraint may be properly used in schools, and who can perform the procedures. It now advances to the Senate floor for a vote.

“We need to be using modern, effective strategies that support positive student behavior,” said Sen. Hopgood, a member of the Special Education Task Force. “This legislation is designed to provide a safe environment that promotes dignity for all students, and I’m appreciative that my colleagues on the Senate Education Committee chose to act on these important bills.”

In March, Sen. Hopgood introduced parallel legislation in the Senate, SB 838, that is also designed to limit seclusion and restraint in schools. It has been referred to the Senate Education Committee, where it has not yet been discussed.

Seclusion and restraint are procedures that isolate or physically hold students as a response to problematic behavior. Unfortunately, data suggest these practices are overused and potentially dangerous, because if done improperly, they can cause harm to the students they’re designed to protect.

“Seclusion and restraint are outdated practices,” Sen. Hopgood said. “We’re past due on implementing new techniques that are proven to be effective and beneficial for students who depend on a healthy and safe environment in which to learn.”

Under the proposed legislation, all instances of seclusion and restraint would need to be assessed, monitored and documented. The nine-bill House package also would:

  • Establish a positive behavioral support system and intervention plan that would be adopted by all schools.
  • Define appropriate requirements for the use of seclusion and restraint methods in emergency situations, and require reporting of instances.
  • Create reporting requirements associated with the use of these practices.
  • Create best practices for data collection on incidents and school training requirements for emergencies.
  • Require districts and intermediate school districts to create policies that align with the statewide plan.

According to an analysis of the 2011–2012 U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights data conducted by ProPublica and National Public Radio, restraint and seclusion were used — and documented — more than 267,000 times nationwide. In three-quarters of those cases, children with disabilities were the targets.

This legislation follows the recommendations of the Special Education Task Force, which is chaired by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, a group designed to provide quality, inclusive education that meets the needs of all Michigan youth.