4200 Wainwright Avenue | Lansing, MI 48911
Phone: (517) 755-2800 Fax:(517) 755-2809
The mission of Student Services is to serve as an advocate for students and families by providing supports, interventions, and programs that positively impact the development of all students, while building an equitable school culture and climate.
Meet the Staff
Student Services Specialist
Q&A: New Legislative Changes for Suspensions and Expulsions
What was the previous legislation?
Zero Tolerance was the previous legislation, which was a requirement that a district expel students for the following behaviors: 1) Assault to Staff, 2) Arson, 3) Sexual Assault, and 4) Possession/Use of a Weapon. This law also included consideration for a Bomb Threat and Physical Assault on a Student.
How is it different from the new legislation?
New legislation now allows for more flexibility on the part of school districts and school boards. Schools now have the ability to consider 7 factors before suspension or expulsion, which includes interventions such as restorative practices or other alternatives to suspension, while considering student demographics such as age/grade and discipline history.
What is the purpose of the new legislation?
The new legislation aims to keep students in school. More flexibility to districts is recognized as an important aspect to determining the best outcomes for the student based on his/her behavior. Michigan's expulsion rules — like those in many other states — go above federal guidelines that only mandate that students who bring firearms to school be expelled for at least a year. In Michigan, schools are allowed to expel for additional reasons such as those mentioned above (e.g. Physical Assault, Arson, and Sexual Assault), yet with an ability now to determine if seven other factors might allow for a different decision (see factors below).
What is the current vision of the district concerning culture and climate?
The Lansing School District opened the Office of School Culture with a continued focus on improving culture and climate and reducing suspension and expulsion rates district-wide through restorative practices, alternatives to suspensions, and a commitment to progressive discipline. The focus of the district remains on improving student engagement through high instruction, project-based learning, and leadership opportunities for students. In instances where engagement is not maintained, trauma informed and restorative-minded progressive interventions will be considered as we continue to build a positive district culture.
To support this vision, in partnership with Hanover Research, we hope to develop a climate index or rating system, which will assign schools a numerical climate score based on several measures of school climate including: academic climate, community and relationships, safety, and institutional environment. This measure will help us continue to move in the direction of data-based decisions and supports to have proactive approaches to discipline, to assess climate and culture and classroom management, and to improve and enhance student engagement.
What current practices in LSD help to support compliance with this legislation?
The district is committed to improving culture and climate through several initiatives, services, and programs such as iCollaborate support and training, Project-Based Learning coaching, Adaptive Schools training, CRPBIS (CHAMPs/DISC, Restorative Practices, Multi-Tiered Systems of Support, Graduation Alliance, Project PEACE,STAR Grant, APEX, the Lansing Pathway to Promise, Student Support Specialists, Public Safety Officers, and Collaboration/Partnerships (Resolution Services, Community Mental Health CEI, Child and Family Charities), Professional Development/Training (Trauma Informed/Restorative Practices, Mental Health Summer Summits)
How is the Lansing School District’s vision for culture and climate in line with this new legislation?
With all of the programs developed and implemented, LSD is making strides toward addressing the growth areas that negatively impact our achievement gaps and graduation rates. LSD is demonstrating the flexibility and resilience needed to keep our students in school and to provide with positive behavior and academic supports to help them experience a pathway to success.
How might the process change when contacting the Office of School Culture with a recommendation for a 10 day suspension?
- Conversations may be more in depth due to consultation and coaching through the process to make sure all factors have been considered before suspending to the Office of School Culture.
- More documentation may be required to support consideration for all factors:
- IEP/504 Plans
- FBA/BIP Information
- Discipline History
- Documentation of Tiered (Progressive) Interventions
What are the 7 factors to consider for suspensions, especially for 10 days or greater?
- Age of Student
- Disciplinary History
- Disability Status
- Seriousness of Behavior
- Whether Behavior Posed a Safety Risk
- Whether or not Restorative Practices can address the behavior
- Whether a lesser intervention might address the behavior as an alternative to suspension
What is rebuttal presumption and how does it apply?
Both in common law and in civil law, a rebuttable presumption is an assumption made by a court—one that is taken to be true unless someone comes forward to contest it and prove otherwise. For example, a defendant in a criminal case is presumed innocent until proved guilty.
In the case of suspensions, according to new legislation, an assumption that the suspension is not justified unless factors suggest otherwise will be made for suspensions/expulsions above ten (10) school days. This requires the school district to demonstrate a clear consideration for the mandatory factors (see above). For weapons (including firearms), the rebuttable presumption will only apply if the school determines in writing that one of the four exceptions apply and the student has no history of suspension or expulsion: (1) did not possess the weapon as a weapon, or for delivery for use as a weapon, 2) did not knowingly possess the weapon, 3) did not know it was a weapon, 4) possessed the weapon at the suggestion, request, permission of school personnel or police.
Does this document have to be completed for all suspensions or just those referred to the Office of School Culture for 10 or more days?
For any suspension resulting in ten (10) or more school days the seven (7) factors are required for consideration. For suspensions less than ten (10) school days, the seven (7) factors may be considered.
When should this documentation be sent?
Documentation should be sent within the ten (10) day pending investigation period, preferably within 2-3 days. The form used to consider the factors will be completed in collaboration with the Student Services Specialist during consultation.
How should this document be sent?
Documentation can be sent electronically to Nancy Zamiara, Office of School Culture, or faxed to 2809.
If a student is classified as receiving Special Education services (i.e. IEP or 504 Plan) are their limitations on the consequences that can be given? What are the limitations? Who do we contact for support?
An MDR must be completed and reviewed by the Department of Special Education before a meeting can be scheduled with the Office of School Culture. You may schedule a tentative meeting with the Office of School Culture in the case the MDR does not determine the behavior a manifestation of the student’s disability. This meeting will not occur until the MDR is completed. You may contact the Department of Special Education for additional at 755-4000 for additional support.
Schools Changing Zero-Tolerance Policies to Reflect New Michigan Law
Before suspending a student for ten (10) days or more, school administration must complete this form in collaboration with a Student Services Specialist to ensure all considerations were made prior to this decision based on section 1310d. (Section 1310d Discipline Factors, MCL 380.1310d)
Problem Solving with Behavior Data
This handout is designed to support the review of Synergy data to develop precise problem statements, set goals based on behavioral data, and begin generation some solutions based on data.
Restorative Justice School Program
Restorative Practices are evidence-based principles of restorative justice (RJ) which seek to repair the harm caused by conflict, violence or violations of law. Resolution Services Center's school program was founded in 2004. We now serve multiple school districts and counties. RJ uses transformative conferencing and peace circles to prevent conflicts, bullying issues, reduce suspensions, and maintain a safe learning environment.
Examples of Services:
- RJ Circle/Conference - Brings together individuals involved in conflict for collaboration on solution.
- Small Groups – Gather 4-6 youth to support skill-building and problem-solving development (i.e. cyber responsibility and safety).
- Parent Circles – Provide parent involvement with resolving conflict.
- Class Presentations – Community building and conflict resolution discussions (20-30 minutes).
- Consultations – Consult with schools, staff, and administration about resolving and presenting school related issues.
- Trainings/Professional Developments – Train or give presentations to staff, parents, or community in Restorative Justice.