• Are You Ready for August 1st?
  • August 23, 2017
  • The 2017/2018 school year is fast approaching and so are two very important deadlines. By August 1, 2017, school districts, intermediate school districts and public school academies are required to have policies in place regarding: (1) Restorative Justice and (2) Seclusion and Restraint.

    (1) Restorative Justice

    A Restorative Justice policy must be adopted to ensure, among other things, that the seven (7) mitigating factors are considered for any discipline recommendation over 10 days (long-term suspension or expulsion). The new laws also eliminate certain "Zero Tolerance" offenses under MCL 380.1311 and require current Board policies be revised to incorporate consideration of the mitigating factors. Pursuant to new MCL 380.1310d, the mitigating factors are:

    1. the pupil's age;
    2. the pupil's disciplinary history;
    3. whether the pupil has a disability;
    4. the seriousness of the violation or behavior committed by the pupil;
    5. whether the violation or behavior committed by the pupil threatened the safety of any pupil or staff member;
    6. whether Restorative Practices will be used to address the violation or behavior committed by the pupil; and
    7. whether a lesser intervention would properly address the violation or behavior committed by the pupil.

    In addition to adopting a new Restorative Justice policy and revising current student discipline policies to comply with the new laws, professional development training should also be considered. The program should include training from experts in the Restorative Justice process, development of procedures for consideration in disciplinary infractions (such as referral sheets that include documented consideration of the mitigating factors), re-drafting of student handbooks to align with the new laws, and implementation of staff-wide in-services to introduce Restorative Justice and explain the new legal requirements.

    (2) Seclusion and Restraint

    Schools must also adopt and implement a Seclusion and Restraint policy consistent with the Michigan Department of Education ("MDE") policy on Seclusion and Restraint, issued March 14, 2017. The law also requires extensive training for "key identified personnel," awareness training for school personnel who have regular contact with students and training for substitute teachers to ensure they are informed of and understand the procedures regarding use of emergency seclusion and emergency physical restraint.

    The MDE is expected to issue its Administrative Guidelines on Seclusion and Restraint in August 2017, which will further detail the training and reporting requirements and provide additional resources.