‘Restraint’ law abused, group says

FRUITPORT, Mich. - A Muskegon-area couple is pushing lawmakers in Michigan and in Congress to ban the use of restraints and seclusion as means of controlling children in public schools, according to The Muskegon Chronicle.

Alan and Nicole Holden, of Fruitport, told The Chronicle that their 4-year-old autistic son is now thriving in the special education program in Fruitport Community Schools, but that at a preschool he formerly attended he was strapped into a high chair for three hours a day for several weeks. The chair tipped over several times, the couple told The Chronicle, but staff told the couple that the child's bruises were caused on the playground. She declined to name the preschool, The Chronicle reported.

The Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service included the Holdens' story in a report it released recently that said about 3,200 cases of restraint or seclusion were reported in 22 intermediate school districts in Michigan in 2008-2009, according to The Chronicle. The other intermediate districts did not file reports.

Current state law allows restraint and seclusion if a student's behavior interferes with school functions and if the student has refused to comply with requests to stop being disruptive, according to The Chronicle. The law is not sufficient to prevent abuse and overuse, according to MPAS, The Chronicle reported.

The Muskegon Chronicle, "Fruitport couple in Washington D.C. to push for ban of restraints, seclusion to control students," Dec. 9, 2009

Michigan Education Report, "Parents push for changes in special ed waiver system," Feb. 29, 2008