“Given the steadily increasing use of zero tolerance policies, the alarming rate of suspensions in school districts across Michigan, the lack of evidence these policies improve safety, and negative impact these disciplinary actions are having on students outcomes, the State Board of Education calls for schools across the state to adopt discipline policies without mandated suspension or expulsion for issues that do not involve weapons.”

MI State Board of Education, June 2012

​There is a disturbing trend how the current Michigan Zero Tolerance Law for education is being administered. Youth Voice, Michigan Prophetic Voices, and Michigan Organizing Collaborative leadership from the statewide organizing network of Harriet Tubman Center believe that revising Zero Tolerance is crucial.

We fully understand and support zero tolerance for serious offenses related to the safety of students and school personnel, but we find it troubling when a student can be suspended or expelled for minor offenses (such as truancy, disorderly conduct, insubordination, uniform violations or a missing ID badge). These situations are counter to the intention of ensuring that all students have the best opportunity for academic success.

Therefore, we support the following amendments or changes to the Zero Tolerance Law:

  • “All incidents which do not involve weapons should be handled at the discretion of school administrators to limit the number of suspensions, expulsions or referrals to law enforcement.”
  • "Reserve the mandatory 180-day expulsion for serious incidents involving firearms, and establish local, case-by-case discretion for other serious offenses.”
  • “The implementation of proven alternative behavior management strategies like restorative practices, positive behavior supports, teen courts, peer mediation and professional development training should be used to address disciplinary matters that are for minor infractions.”
  • “Removing a child from an educational opportunity should be reserved for serious offenses related to the safety of students and school personnel.”

These changes would not preclude educators from suspending or expelling students; they encourage alternatives to suspensions and expulsions and ensure better access to education.

Why the Revision?

  • Lower dropout rates: Suspended students are at greater risk of dropping out.
  • Reduce Discrimination: Studies show that minority and marginalized students are disproportionately suspended.
  • Reduce Crime: No evidence supports Zero Tolerance making schools safer, and overuse can increase crime in schools.
  • Reduce State Costs: MI spends about $8,000/student and about $36,000/prisoner annually.

Schedule a meeting with your local legislatures and YOUTH VOICE will attend with you! Give us a call at (313) 285-9710 or email Kinda at kmakini@innercityyouthgroup.org once the meeting is confirmed.

Modify Zero Tolerance

​Detroit, Michigan 
​​(313) 549-0421