Since the Summit

At the Michigan Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnership Summit, leaders from all 83 counties heard state and national experts speak about the importance of regular school attendance, successful strategies for reducing truancy, and how school discipline relates to students’ success and juvenile justice involvement. They were then asked to return to their individual counties and develop partnerships with other stakeholders and a local plan that makes sense for their own communities.

At this point, we received a plan from or are in communications with 81 of the 83 counties in Michigan! Overall, we are seeing local teams consisting of judiciary, court administrators, educators, law enforcement, Michigan Departments of Health and Human Services, Community Health, prosecutors, and other community resource groups.

The county team plans were evaluated by a Review Board to ensure the plans aligned with the objectives of the initiative and to identify gaps in resources and programs that would allow the teams to create a more comprehensive plan to bolster early intervention efforts to address the basic needs/safety, behavioral, emotional and mental health of at-risk children to ensure not only their graduation but lifelong success.

Since then, the teams have met regularly in their communities and once a year with other counties face-to-face to share ideas and collaborate with leaders and other county teams.


September  2013 – Leadership Summit in Ann Arbor
December  13, 2013 – County team plans due
February 3, 2014 – Feedback sent to the counties
March 28, 2014 – Updated plans due
May – June, 2014 – Regional meetings in Marquette, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Gaylord and Frankenmuth
May 20 and 21, 2015 – Forum in Grand Traverse
November 1-3, 2016 – Forum in Bellaire, MI
September 25-27, 2017 – Forum in Grand Traverse


What stood out about the plans:

  • Need for Standard Truancy/Chronic Absenteeism Definition  – The teams recognized in their plans that in order to collect consistent data (even among different districts in the same county), a standard definition of Truancy/Chronic Absenteeism is needed
  • Need for education around Michigan Zero Tolerance laws 
  • Diversity and size of the teams
  • Strong community collaboration
  • Recognition of poverty factor
  • Acknowledgement of a need for change

Common guidance provided to the counties:  

  • Need for Data Collection and Tracking – Many of the teams needed to be encouraged to access and analyze local polices and data on school attendance, graduation and delinquency rates starting for 2013 and continuing through at least 2016. Tracking and comparing these trends will be strong indicators of whether and to what extent the action plan is effective in achieving the Summit’s objectives, and
  • Need to Set Measurable Goals – Many of the teams needed to be encouraged to make their goals measurable, i. e.  using an increase or decrease of 5-10 percent in graduation rates, expulsions/suspensions, and truancy/chronic absenteeism or other measurable outcomes;  and
  • Need for Specific Accountability – Many of the teams  needed to be encouraged to identify the specific person/group who is responsible for achieving a particular output and outcome within and agreed upon time frame, i.e. monthly, quarterly, etc.; and
  •  Need for Strategies and Interventions – All of the teams needed to be encouraged to specifically utilize and include several important resources as part of their teams and solutions to provide strategies and interventions that will strongly influence accomplishing the objectives of the initiative. The principal elements for consideration included Physical Health (availability of health and dental resources and physical activity), Social/Emotional/Spiritual Health (including community outreach, mental health counseling services, access to faith-based organizations, and extra-curricular school and community-based activities), Education (quality schools, parent education and engagement, tutoring, and school attendance support), and Basic Needs and Safety (personal safety, supportive law enforcement, food/nutrition guidance, transportation, and child care).

Exciting news:

  • Muskegon receives NCJFCJ grant – The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, via their School Pathways to Juvenile Justice System Project, gave a grant to 16 court sites, including Muskegon. The NCJFCJ will provide training and technical assistance to help judicial leaders develop efforts to reduce referrals of youth to juvenile courts for school-based misbehaviors and to expand the use of positive disciplinary practices in schools. Carl Reynolds, Senior Legal & Policy Advisor Council of State Governments of the Justice Center has been selected to be one of Muskegon’s facilitators. Carl has kept in regular contact with us since the Summit.
  • Zero Tolerance legislation passed – The Zero Tolerance Laws were signed by the Governor on 12/21/16. Our group is an integral part of these proposed changes.
  • Truancy legislation proposed – Our Truancy and Chronic Absenteeism Bills were introduced to the Senate for the third time in February of 2017!!! SB 103-106. This is much earlier this year than in the past. Third time is a charm, right?! Let’s do this County Teams!