Michigan Advocates to End Seclusion and Restraint
Locally - State Level - Nationally - Globally
There is federal legislation active right now called the Keeping All Students Safe Act (KASSA).
One thing that you can do is write to the Michigan senators and your representative, urging them to cosign the bill.
The Keeping All Students Safe Act (KASSA) prohibits the use of seclusion and limits the use of physical restraint in schools and Head Start programs that receive federal funding.
Write to a Senator
One thing that you can do to keep all kids and educators safe in school is to write to the people who represent Michigan in the U.S. Congress to urge them to support the Keeping All Students Safe Act (KASSA).
Here are some sample letters that you can use as inspiration or copy, paste, and edit:
Short and Sweet:
Dear [Title] [Name], I am writing to urge you to cosponsor the Keeping All Students Safe Act. The latest neuroscience research has made it clear that seclusion and restraint are traumatic events for the students who experience them. Furthermore, there is no evidence that they make schools safer by preventing problem behaviors. In fact, some studies have shown that they can make behaviors worse. Please protect all of our students, especially those with disabilities, who are the majority of the students who experience seclusion and restraint in our schools. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, [Your Name]
Getting More Involved:
Dear [Title] [Name], I noticed that you are not yet a cosponsor of the Keeping All Students Safe Act. As a member of your constituency and a [Your Position], I am asking you to support this bill. Too many of our students have experienced the psychological and emotional harm of being secluded in a room, helpless and alone, when they are extremely upset with nobody to answer their cries except for the adults who are waiting outside, refusing to let them out until they calm themselves down. Well, if they could be calm, they would be. The truth is that they lack the ability to calm down on their own in that situation and they need help; co-regulation from in-tune adults in order to calm down. That is why seclusion should not be allowed to be used on our students. s you know, the majority of the students who are secluded and restrained in our schools are those with disabilities and are disproportionately boys and boys of color. The very fact that a student has a disability is a clue that they need empathy, kindness, compassion, and support when they are having meltdowns, not punishment, isolation, and involuntary confinement. These children have enough trouble in school and in life, seclusion and restraint will only make them feel unsafe at school, possibly retraumatizing them, and increasing undesired behaviors over time, making our schools less safe not only for other students but also for staff members. Please consider supporting the Keeping All Students Safe Act. Sincerely, [Your Name]
A Parent's Perspective:
Dear [Title] [Name], As the parent of an Autistic student, I am asking you to support the Keeping All Students Safe Act. My son doesn't experience the world in the same way that typical students do and school can be a difficult place for him. When he feels overwhelmed, if he doesn't get the right kind of support, he can sometimes become aggressive. I noticed his school refusal increasing and his behaviors getting worse, but I had no idea that he was being taken to a seclusion room on a regular basis until much later. These experiences have had an extremely negative impact on him and recovery is slow. Please end the use of seclusion by supporting the Keeping All Kids Safe Act. Sincerely, [Your Name]
A Teacher's Perspective:
Dear [Title] [Name], As a teacher who has used seclusion with students in the past, I can say that the Keeping All Students Safe Act is a very important and deeply needed bill. Getting close a to dysregulated student whose nervous is in a fight state, fighting for survival, and whose prefrontal cortex is basically offline is not safe for anybody. It's nothing like the CPI holds that we practiced in training. I know that there are better ways to handle students in crisis; better for students and better for educators. Some of my students live with difficult home lives, trauma, and disabilities. They are often hypervigilant in school; perceiving threats where others might feel safe. In some situations, for these students, some behaviors are not a choice. If the adults around do not notice their cues and don't step in to help, they may become dysregulated and lose control. They lose the ability to choose a behavior and simply need co-regulation from an in-tune, safe, supportive adult. As educators, we don't need seclusion and restraint. We need updated school-wide Social and Emotional learning systems, training in actual, helpful strategies that really work in the trenches, we need practice and support staff who can step in, we need sensory rooms where students voluntarily go to calm down because they're actually calming, and we need equipment to protect ourselves. Please support the Keeping Students Safe Act. Sincerely, [Your Name]
Stories are Powerful
Most people have no idea what it's like to be secluded or restrained in school or what it's like to be the parent of a student who has experienced seclusion or restraint at school. Some people have no idea that these practices are even allowed in Michigan schools, let alone their own school districts. Sharing your story is a personal choice. It can feel vulnerable and difficult. It can also inspire change. You are invited to share your story if and when you are ready.