MDE Guidance Issued on Emergency Seclusion and Physical Restraint

Colin Ripmaster's picture

On Thursday, the Michigan Department of Education released guidance documents for school districts on implementing the new laws governing the emergency use of seclusion and physical restraint. These documents include an FAQ, a sample documentation form, and a sample debriefing form. To assist you in getting your head around this information, we’ve excerpted some key sections of the FAQ that Principals will want to be aware of. We have also reproduced MDE’s memo in its entirety with links to all relevant documents and supporting references.

Key Issues

We’ve subdivided the information below into four sections:

  • General Parameters,
  • Law Enforcement,
  • Training Requirements, and
  • Reporting Requirements.

NOTE: The excerpts below are just that, portions of the language from the FAQ designed to help you pick out key information from the full 29 page document. Principals will still need to reference the full FAQ for complete details. To that end, we’ve also included page numbers for each reference.

General Parameters

The following three items clarify key questions MASSP has received from Principals about the parameters of the new restrictions.

If school personnel evacuate a room with the exception of one pupil and an employee of the school, is it considered seclusion?
If the pupil is not physically prevented from leaving the room, it is not considered seclusion.

(page 14)

When does separating a pupil from others constitute seclusion or emergency seclusion?
When a pupil is confined in a room and physically prevented from leaving, that constitutes seclusion. The only exception is when that confinement is an integral part of an emergency lockdown drill…or of another emergency security procedure that is necessary to protect the safety of pupils.
(page 15)

Is the emergency use of seclusion and physical restraint allowed to protect property?
No. The emergency use of seclusion and physical restraint is meant to protect pupils and staff. If the act of destructing property causes imminent risk to the safety of a pupil or staff member, emergency use of seclusion and physical restraint is permissible."
(page 10)

Law Enforcement

These two items provide important clarification about the role of law enforcement as it relates to the new law.

Are school personnel allowed to call for law enforcement to deal with pupils who refuse to cease disruptive behavior?
First responders (emergency medical services, the police, or others) may need to be called by school personnel. This should be part of a school's crisis management plan.
(page 10)

Are school resource officers (SROs) considered school personnel?
Law enforcement officers who are sworn, meet state training and licensing standards, and are acting in their capacity as law enforcement officers are not bound by [the new laws]. Law enforcement officers are bound by limits on police use of force. Other individuals designated as "school resource officers" who are not sworn law enforcement officers are bound by [the new laws]. Who fits within that category is a matter of state law and not school district discretion.
(page 10)

Training Requirements

The new law requires two types of additional training. Principals are likely already aware of the awareness training requirement, but this item bears reviewing because of its scope. A full list of the required components of awareness training is included on page 11 of the FAQ. As a member service, MASSP has developed a full suite of MDE-approved resources that districts can use to fulfill this requirement. Click here for more information.

Who is required to receive awareness training?
All school personnel who have regular contact with pupils or who regularly and continuously work under contract, are required to receive awareness training. This may include: teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, support staff, bus drivers, security personnel, cafeteria staff, substitute teachers, public school employees providing services at a non-public school, school volunteers, school board members, coaches, and pre-service and intern teachers.
(page 11)

Reporting Requirements

The new laws impose several new reporting and documentation requirements should an incident occur. These items clarify some key points around data collection and debriefing parents.

Does a school need to collect data regarding seclusion and restraint?
Yes. All uses of restraint and seclusion must be documented, not just emergency seclusion or emergency physical restraint.
(page 18)

Are districts required to use a Michigan Department of Education (MDE) form for documenting instances of seclusion and/or restraint?
No. The statute requires documentation of all instances of seclusion and restraint, but it does not require documentation on an MDE form. However, a copy of the written report shall be provided to the parent or guardian within the earlier of one school day (if school is in session the next day) or seven calendar days (if incident occurs the day prior to an extended break). The MDE has a model form districts may elect to use or modify for documentation of seclusion and restraint.
(page 18)

When must a debriefing and consultation take place with a parent/guardian?
After each use of seclusion and/or restraint, school personnel must make reasonable efforts to debrief and consult with the parent or guardian, or with the parent or guardian and the pupil, as appropriate, regarding the event, and determination of future actions. Ideally this occurs within one to three school days of the incident.
(page 22)

Must a district use the MDE debriefing form for documenting the debrief and consultation?
Yes. The debriefing and consultation shall be documented on the MDE form or within their existing information systems in accordance with department guidelines.
(page 21)

MDE Memo

Below is the full text of MDE Memo #086-17. Click here to access the original document on MDE's website.

Emergency Use of Seclusion and Physical Restraint

In December 2016, the State of Michigan adopted Public Act 394 of 2016 restricting the use of seclusion and restraint in schools. On March 14, 2017, the State Board of Education (SBE) adopted the "Policy for the Emergency Use of Seclusion and Restraint" as required by MCL 380.1307. An update to the Policy was issued in July 2017.

The statute also required the MDE to develop guidance documents to assist school districts in implementing the new law. Those documents are listed below:

It is the intent of the MDE to periodically update the guidance documents to reflect new changes and answer questions that are not addressed in the policy.

If you have questions, you may contact MDE at 888-320-8384 or at