Schools Have More Options Under Updated “Zero Tolerance” Discipline Law

Jake Neher/WDET

Michigan’s zero-tolerance policy for schools is getting what some are calling a “common sense” update. Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation Thursday that will amend the policy to give schools more options when it comes to discipline.

State Rep. Andy Schor (D-Lansing) is a bill sponsor. He said the current method of automatically suspending or expelling students who bring potential weapons to school was not working.

Kids who are getting suspended and getting expelled and it’s a problem and schools don’t have the ability to decide when it’s a serious situation and when it’s a mistake,” he said.

The bipartisan legislation allows schools to consider things like age, disciplinary history, and intent before taking disciplinary action against students.

Gov. Snyder spokesperson Anna Heaton said the amended law brings a “behavioral intervention focus” to school discipline. 

It’s similar to what we’ve tried to do with our criminal justice system in Michigan,” she said. “Which, instead of just punishing someone, sending them to jail, throwing away the key, it looks at kind of what caused this behavior. You know, why was this student acting out?”

The amended policy will start on August 1, 2017.

Image credit: Michigan State Historic Preservation Office/ CC

About the Author

Cheyna Roth

Reporter

Cheyna has interned with Michigan Radio and freelanced for WKAR public radio in Lansing. She’s also done some online freelancing and worked on documentary films.

CRoth@MPRN.org   Follow @Cheyna_R

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