Legislative Action Committee / April 2016
Type: Board Appointed
Focus Areas: Skilled Staff
Upcoming dates or events to share with general membership
The House Education Committee began testimony on a package of bills (House Bills 5409, 5410, 5411, 5412, 5413, 5414, 5415, 5416, 5417, and 5418) designed to end seclusion and restraint policies for students outside of emergency situations.
As of now, MAASE has taken a neutral position on the legislation and has outlined several changes that we feel are still necessary before we can support the bill. Those changes can be found here on our wiki: http://maase.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/107153454/MAASE-April2016-Seclusion-Restraint-LG.pdf.
We want to thank the members who have reached out to us and provided feedback or expressed concerns about these bills. To this end, we feel it is important to remind the membership that legislation is a situation when less is more. This is counter-intuitive for those of us who have made our living in the special education world, where the more detailed we can be, the more likely we will be compliant, ensure FAPE, and/or stay out of trouble in general! But when it comes to legislative language, omissions are usually a blessing. It is imperative that we help our fellow special education colleagues, our principals, and our superintendents take a step back from this legislation for a moment and distinguish the things that we would still be permitted to do because of omissions in the bill language (e.g. student-level BIPs, which are mandated under IDEA and the MARSE).
The thing we have to keep in mind about legislation is that the legislators can tell us what districts can or cannot do, but they cannot make districts do them well. Our goal as we collaborate with legislators and the LG’s Office is to support language that reiterates the importance of PBIS and also supports the 2006 State Board Standards for the Emergency Use of Seclusion and Restraint, since the majority of districts are following those practices already. At the end of the day, we believe that this legislation will give districts another reason to critically examine current district practices and to reiterate to their staff that seclusion and/or restraint are ONLY to be used in emergency situations- both positive outcomes in our opinion.
To date, we have met with Senators and Representatives, and have met on three occasions with the LG’s Chief of Staff and/or the LG himself around the S&R bills. Last week, we met with MASA and MAISA lobbyists to ensure we were all on the same page.
Moving forward, we will continue to meet with legislators, the LG’s Office, and our association colleagues at MASA/MAISA. Many of our members will engage their legislators around this topic through our Michigan Legislative Action Seminar (MLAS) on April 19-20th. We are also working with members on coordinated testimony in the House Education Committee in the short run as the bill moves through the House. We will engage in similar activities when and if the bill passes the House and heads to the Senate.
We appreciate your attempts to share this information with your superintendents. Remember that other associations are looking to MAASE for guidance in this area, given our expertise. Please continue to be proactive with your representatives and superintendents in this regard.
Seclusion and Restraint! For the latest MAASE input on these bills, please refer to our wiki here: http://maase.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/107153454/MAASE-April2016-Seclusion-Restraint-LG.pdf. We appreciate your attempts to share this information with your superintendents. Remember that other associations are looking to MAASE for guidance in this area, given our expertise. Please continue to be proactive with your representatives and superintendents in this regard.
Join us for MLAS on April 19th and 20th, when we will hear from the LG and take to the Capitol to have conversation with our representatives!