Michigan’s Zero Tolerance Policy for Schools
A significant change to Michigan’s Zero Tolerance Policy in schools goes into effect. A child’s future may hang in the balance when a school disciplines a student.
Children have Due Process Rights, and they need someone to protect their future.
For years, Michigan schools have been restrained by “zero tolerance” policies, orders from the government to expel any students involved in certain activities, including the possession of “dangerous weapons.” For years, the State of Michigan placed restrictions on the discretion with which schools could handle their affairs. A new law, signed by the governor in December, changes that. Beginning this August, Michigan schools are no longer bound by the heavily restrictive “zero-tolerance” policies of the past and now have the authority to judge each student’s behavior individually. With added discretion replacing the zero-tolerance policy for schools, the proclivities of the school administrators will determine how these matters are handled.
The Old Way
Until the passage of this new law, immediate expulsion was required if a student brought a dangerous weapon to school, committed arson, assaulted a volunteer or member of the school’s staff, or engaged in any criminal sexual conduct. There was little recourse against the policy for students who were found responsible for any of the allegations above. School administrators’ hands were tied, and they didn’t have the power to use their judgment on a case-by-case basis.
The New Law
According to the new Zero Tolerance Policy for Schools legislation, much more control is in the hands of the schools. Before expelling or suspending a student, the school must evaluate their circumstances based on seven factors:
- The student’s age.
- The student’s disciplinary history.
- Any disability from which the student suffers.
- The seriousness of the student’s behavior.
- Whether or not the activity in question presented a risk to anyone’s safety.
- Whether or not restorative practices have been used.
- Whether some action less than expulsion or suspension would correct the behavior.
What The New Zero Tolerance Policy for Schools Law Means For Your Child
This policy change is good news for those students facing disciplinary action from their schools. It is, however, wise to bring legal counsel to assist in these matters. Because law changed recently, it’s essential to have a first-rate attorney with you to explain to the school administrators two key points. First, they are now allowed to look at the bigger picture to consider the totality of your child’s circumstances when deciding the best way to handle their case. Second, once the school understands their discretion, you need someone to help convince them why some punishment less than expulsion will achieve all the school’s objectives and prevent future behavioral problems.
In today’s increasingly competitive marketplace, you need to protect your child from any unnecessary blemishes on their record. An expulsion or suspension can wreak havoc on a child’s future, and studies show that expulsions and suspensions tend to lead young people down the wrong road. The “prison to pipeline” phenomenon is one of the main reasons this new law has been enacted.
Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyers for Minors
You and your child deserve an advocate who will educate the educators and fight to ensure your child receives fair results, even when faced with a Zero Tolerance Policy violation in School. To speak with an attorney who has experience dealing with Michigan schools and fighting against expulsions, call LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. We will take the time to talk with you, answer your questions, and address all of your concerns. We will find a way to help.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.