Officials with Brighton Area Schools have provided some clarification about student disruptions at Hawkins Elementary School in Brighton.

On Wednesday, WHMI reported that special education students were causing daily disruptions at the school to the point where a class may have to be evacuated 2-3 times a day because of a disruptive or violent student. Teachers at the school board meeting Tuesday night expressed their frustration at the fact that nothing was being done by school administration to improve the situation. Hawkins, at Lee and Rickett roads just south of Brighton, houses most elementary level special education students in the Brighton Area School District. Among them are those who have the most serious emotional or behavioral problems.

However, district administrators, who didn’t want to be quoted in the story, say it is both special-and-regular education students that have been causing disruptions — not only at Hawkins but also at other Brighton schools, as well as other districts. The issue, in part, is being blamed on a state law passed in December of 2016: Public Act 394 (link below), which prohibits touching a student unless the child is deemed a danger to himself or to others. The measure is known commonly as the Seclusion and Restraint Law. As a result of the law’s application in the last couple of years, in many Michigan public schools a visitor might see a teacher or paraprofessional following a student around as the child roams the halls, or even causes damage, and the adult does nothing about it for fear of breaking the law.

The law was promoted by former Lt. Governor Brian Calley, who has a child with Autism. However, Calley himself has said the law is being misinterpreted by legal counsel for school districts, saying they need to read it thoroughly and check with the Michigan Dept. of Education for the proper guidance on interpreting and applying the law.

Meanwhile, a level three grievance has been filed by the Brighton Education Association on behalf of the affected teachers. Over an hour was devoted to the public comments portion of Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting as teachers and parents cited a litany of problems at the school, after which a 2-hour closed door hearing was held on the grievance. According to Superintendent Greg Gray, a decision will be made on the grievance within the next month, and the results will be made public. (TT/JK)