Solutions Not Suspensions Pledge

We, the undersigned, call on Michigan legislators to roll back Michigan’s overly broad School Discipline Code to align with federal law. We further call on Michigan school districts, schools and law enforcement to place a moratorium on non-mandatory expulsions and school exclusion and invest in resources for educational staff to implement positive approaches to discipline.

The ultimate goal of this moratorium is to improve student achievement, increase school safety, decrease school dropout and ultimately, foster a nurturing, supportive and engaging school community for all where students and teachers engage in meaningful dialogue. School exclusions are actually counterproductive and should only be used when absolutely necessary, according to the American Psychological Association[1]. In fact, research shows many negative impacts, including:

  1. Lowered academic achievement[2]
  2. Increased probability of future student misbehavior[3]
  3. Increased likelihood that a student will drop out[4]
  4. Increased likelihood that a student will encounter the justice system[5]
  5. Lowered school completion rates[6]

Michigan lost 251,410 days of student instruction in 2010 due to school exclusion policies[7]. We are in a crisis situation with school discipline. With this in mind, we call on Michigan Legislators to roll back Michigan's school discipline code to align with federal law and ensure an education is provided to all students. Further, we call on districts, schools and law enforcement to:

  1. Prioritize keeping students in school;
  2. Provide supports to teachers, administrators and other educational staff to address discipline challenges in a way that supports student learning, while also ensuring a safe and orderly teaching and learning environment; 
  3. Put in place a moratorium on non-mandatory expulsions such as for persistent disobedience, truancy, verbal assault and playground fights;
  4. Consider the “weapons exceptions” seriously in each weapons case, as outlined in state law[8];
  5. Provide a comparable education that provides positive behavior supports to students subjected to mandatory expulsion;
  6. Adopt best practices in discipline, such as restorative practices, school-wide positive behavior supports, and other positive approaches, that support students' learning time and do not discriminate based on gender, race or disability status;
  7. Safeguard against an increase in and work to reduce reliance on other punitive discipline practices such as long-term suspensions, school-based arrests or placements in alternative schools; and
  8. Engage parents, students, teachers and community members in the development and implementation of best practices in school discipline.

During the period of time the moratorium is in place, there should be monitoring of each strategy outlined above, including making data and evaluation available to the public.

Sign the Pledge here:

https://sites.google.com/a/studentadvocacycenter.org/solutions-not-suspensions/the-pledge/sign-the-pledge

Resources

MDE Board Statement

http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/SBE_Statement_on_Online_Learning_final_414547_7.pdf?20130507193621


National Solutions Not Suspensions Moratorium Pledge

http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6172/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=11512


State School Code

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/mcl/pdf/mcl-act-451-of-1976.pdf


Safer Saner Schools International Institute for Restorative Practices

http://www.safersanerschools.org/


[1] American Psychological Association Zero Tolerance Task Force (2008). Are zero tolerance policies effective in the schools?: An evidentiary review and recommendations. American Psychologist, 63, 852-862.


[2] Advancement Project (2010, March). Test, punish, and push out: How “zero tolerance” and high stakes testing policies funnel youth into the school-to-prison pipeline. Retrieved from www.advancementproject.org.


[3] Skiba, R.J. & Rausch, M.K. (2006). School disciplinary systems: Alternatives to suspension and expulsion. In G. Bear & K. Minke (Eds.), Children's Needs III: Development, Prevention & Intervention (pp. 87-102). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.


[4] Advancement Project (2010, March). Test, punish, and push out: How “zero tolerance” and high stakes testing policies funnel youth into the school-to-prison pipeline. Retrieved from www.advancementproject.org.


[5] Advancement Project (2010, March). Test, punish, and push out: How “zero tolerance” and high stakes testing policies funnel youth into the school-to-prison pipeline. Retrieved from www.advancementproject.org.


[6] Skiba, R.J. & Rausch, M.K. (2006). School disciplinary systems: Alternatives to suspension and expulsion. In G. Bear & K. Minke (Eds.), Children's Needs III: Development, Prevention & Intervention (pp. 87-102). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.


[7]  White, E. W. (2012). Eastern Michigan University Special Education Summer Institute: Transforming Special Education: Passion, Change, and Advocacy. Ypsilanti, MI.


[8] Michigan law (MCL 380.1311(2)) provides four exceptions to zero tolerance, allowing schools the opportunity to exercise judgment in individual cases. The four exceptions are: 1) the object or instrument possessed by the pupil was not possessed by the pupil for use as a weapon, or for direct or indirect delivery to another person for use as a weapon; 2) the weapon was not knowingly possessed by the pupil; 3) the pupil did not know or have reason to know that the object or instrument possessed by the pupil constituted a dangerous weapon; and 4) the weapon was possessed by the pupil at the suggestion, request, or direction of, or with the express permission of, school or police authorities.