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MPAS Reacts to the Michigan Department of Education’s Draft School Discipline Policy Statement

Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service, Inc. (MPAS) is encouraged by the Michigan Department of Education’s Draft School Discipline Policy Statement; however, we feel that, without stronger guidance from the State Board of Education and the Michigan Department of Education, schools will continue to remove students who present challenges. As a starting point, the state Board of Education should refer to the joint letter from the Department of Justice and Department of Education dated Jan. 8, 2014 when providing guidance to school districts regarding student discipline without discrimination on the basis of race, color, or disability.

http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201401-title-vi.pdf

For the last four years, MPAS has surveyed parents with school age children with disabilities.  The data from the survey reflect the systematic removal of students from instruction because of disability.  Many students are sent home on a regular basis, often without formal suspension. Other students are referred to the juvenile justice system and spiral into what has been referred to as the “school to prison pipeline”.  When schools choose to work with students, many have inadequate or punitive behavior intervention plans which involve seclusion, restraint and police involvement for behaviors the students cannot control.

To the extent that the draft policy statement recognizes these problems and provides information to school districts, MPAS supports it. Information alone, however, has not made a dent in this problem. We urge MDE to go much further and adopt mandatory rules defining and governing school discipline so that students have a right to attend school with adequate and progressive behavior supports.

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Posted on:
January 22, 2014