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Thursday, December 22, 2022

Calley on Restraint and Seclusion

Brian Calley served as lieutenant governor of Michigan and has long been an advocate for people on the spectrum.   At WP, he writes about restraint and seclusion:
I have a daughter with autism. When I first heard about this practice, I thought it must be rare. But it is shockingly common, having been used against tens of thousands of U.S. students in recent years.

In Michigan alone, where my family resides, restraint and seclusion was used in schools more than 94,000 times from 2017 to 2022. Because there are no penalties issued to schools for failing to report, this number is undoubtedly an undercount. An Education Department analysis covering the 2017-2018 school year (based on self-reporting) showed that more than 100,000 children across the United States had been subjected to these inhumane practices.


It was clear this was a major problem. So, my office developed a proposal to ban restraint and seclusion in non-emergency situations. In 2016, I signed legislation that did just that, and that required schools to report to parents and the Michigan Department of Education when the practice was used, so we could track its prevalence. The resulting data revealed a situation that was even worse than I feared.

At the Detroit Free Press, however, Dave Boucher and Lily Altavena report that implementation has not been entirely successful:

While Michigan lawmakers tried to ban the tactics in 2016, a Free Press investigation found educators across the state secluded or restrained students nearly 94,000 times in the last five school years. The state began collecting data in the 2017-18 school year following the passage of new laws.

That means on average, more than 100 times a day, Michigan educators used what experts say are psychologically damaging practices on children. Considering most schools limited or canceled in-person classes for weeks or months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the daily usage of both seclusion and restraint are likely much higher.