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Legislature Amends Seclusion and Restraint Laws

The Michigan Legislature recently passed HB 5126 amending the definition of “school personnel” as it applies to Revised School Code Sections 1307-1307h, which address the use of emergency seclusion and restraint in schools. Thrun attorney Dan Martin testified on the bill before the House Education Reform Committee, emphasizing the need for clarifying legislation to exclude law enforcement officers from the definition of school personnel in those sections. We anticipate that Governor Snyder will sign this bill into law.

Before the amendment, the statute defined “school personnel” as “all individuals employed in a public school or assigned to regularly and continuously work under contract or under agreement in a public school, or public school personnel providing service at a nonpublic school.” This definition included sworn law enforcement officers assigned to regularly and continuously work as school resource officers under an agreement between a school and a local law enforcement agency.

HB 5126 expressly clarifies the Legislature’s intent to exclude those sworn law enforcement officers from the definition of school personnel, except for purposes of data collection, documentation, and reporting. The bill also defines a “law enforcement officer” as an individual licensed under the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards Act.

This amendment clarifies that a school resource officer who is a sworn law enforcement officer is not subject to a school’s policy regarding the use of emergency seclusion or restraint by school personnel, including the prohibition on all mechanical and prone restraints. Law enforcement officers working as school resource officers will, however, still be bound by state and federal laws on the use of excessive force and will be required to document and report when they use seclusion or restraint at schools. Schools should review, and, if necessary, update their seclusion and restraint policies to reflect this new legislation.

Assuming the Governor signs the bill, it will take immediate effect. We will continue to provide our clients updates on the legislation’s impact on schools.