Remember when zero-tolerance policies at schools were all the rage, well Michigan is looking to zero out those zero-tolerance policies.  The Michigan Senate passed legislation yesterday to end the ridiculous policy of zero-tolerance in our schools

Currently you can be expelled from your school for actions that range from physical assault to disobedience and even having a butter knife in your book bag.

The Michigan House passed a package of bills last June addressing the zero-tolerance policy and now as I stated the Michigan Senate has done their job. There is one more step that is needed before it bills goes to the desk of the Governor Snyder, they must go back to the House due to changes made to the bills in the Senate.

The package of bills will make the school administration consider a number of factors before deciding on expelling the student or some other form of punishment.  Those factors include:

  • a student's age
  • disciplinary history
  • seriousness of the violation

That sound very reasonable to me, there are so many factors that could come into play that the school administrator could consider before dealing what is essentially the harshest penalty the school has, expulsion or suspension.  Once a child or teenage is either expelled or suspended it is much more difficult for them to not only keep up with their fellow classmates but even re-engage in school, depending on the length of the suspension or expulsion.

I do see one possible major problem, the schools could be opening themselves up to accusations of racial prejudice.  We know what some groups of people, who shall remain nameless (right Democrats), that will use pure statistics to wage racial war and attempt to divide people.  There may come a time when one color of student is suspended or expelled at a higher rate than another and that aforementioned group of people will say that is racist or bigotry at work.  What they will not do is look at the underlining factors as stated in the package of bills to determine if those factors were considered and the suspensions or expulsions were warranted.

I do not care what color a student is as long as all factors where applied evenly.  If you show me a student of one color who has exactly the record as another student of a different color but was suspended then we can talk about possible racial prejudice.

How big of a problem is suspension or expulsion in Michigan schools, a Detroit Free Press article stated that:

During the 2014-15 school year, there were 1,347 expulsions in Michigan schools— about 8% of them permanent. In 45% of cases, the expulsion was for almost a full school year — 180 days. The median number of days expelled: 157.

If the package of bills passes in the House once again with no additional changes it is on to the Governor’s desk.  If the Governor signs them the bills would go into effect August 1, 2017.

This is good news for Michigan citizens when both parties can come together and pass thoughtful legislation correcting a wrong that was done in the past.  We tried zero-tolerance policies, all seem to agree they did not work as intended so now they are attempting to try a different solution.

Score one for Michigan.

Let’s talk about this today on The Live with Renk Show which airs Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to noon. To let me know your thoughts during the show please call (269) 441-9595