A group of Democratic state lawmakers are proposing changes to the school discipline process.
They say the changes will ensure due process for students facing possible suspension or expulsion.
The proposed changes would include ensuring disciplinary hearings before suspensions of more than ten days, advance notification of specific complaints and access to missed schoolwork.
Democratic State Senator Erika Geiss said the changes would help promote fairness in Michigan schools.
“With restorative justice techniques and trauma-informed discipline at the school level, we can disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline and bring racial justice into the process,” Geiss said.
Geiss cited data from the American Civil Liberties Union that shows deep racial gaps when it comes to school suspensions in Michigan.
Democratic state representative Felicia Brabec said decisions about suspension and expulsion are too important to be made without the participation of students and parents.
“These bills are designed to keep our children in school, reduce the number of students who are taken out of the classroom and the right to that education,” Brabec said.
The proposals are based on a 2016 law. He outlined a list of factors schools should consider when deciding whether or not to remove a student from the classroom.
Democratic state senator Adam Hollier said one of the most difficult things he has had to do as a member of a school board is to attend an expulsion hearing.
“Too often this happens to children who are poor, black and brown, who have learning disabilities or who have special needs. And that happens because we let them down a bit earlier when there was an opportunity to intervene, ”Hollier said.
Democrats have introduced a total of six House-Senate bills as part of this school discipline package.