O’Brien testifies on bills to end schools’ use of seclusion and physical restraint of students

Senator Margaret O'Brien

Senator Margaret O’Brien

LANSING, Mich. — State Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, testified before the House Education Committee on Thursday in support of her bill that would in most cases prohibit Michigan’s public school districts from placing students into seclusion or in physical restraint.

“On August 25, 2003, a mother sent her child to school. He never returned home,” O’Brien said. “Limiting the use of restraint and seclusion and training school staff in the proper way to implement these techniques in specific emergencies will help ensure our students’ safety and stop tragedies like the one in my own community from happening again.”

O’Brien’s legislation is part of a 10-bill, bipartisan and bicameral package. Senate Bill 835 would establish a uniform policy in Michigan regarding the use of seclusion and physical restraint. O’Brien cited a 2003 Kalamazoo case in which 15-year-old Michael Renner Lewis III died from prolonged physical restraint as a prime example for why changes are needed.

The legislation also stems from recommendations developed from public hearings and a survey conducted by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley on how to address issues facing special needs students in the state.

The bills remain before the committee for further consideration.