In the News

Bill aims to cut number of out-of-school suspensions
Lawmakers consider legislation that would push schools to use restorative justice instead of out-of-school suspensions. Full Story

Should kindergartners be kicked out of school? Dallas ISD may prohibit suspensions of young kids
Dallas ISD is rethinking how it approaches discipline in schoolsFull Story

Getting Diploma, GED Part Of Wayne County Judge’s Sentencing
When Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Deborah Thomas doles out her punishment to criminal offenders, part of her sentencing plan is ordering those who have not completed high school to do so. Full Story

You Can’t Fix What You Don’t Look At: Acknowledging Race in Addressing Racial Discipline Disparities
This briefing paper highlights recommendations for school administrators and educators for facilitating conversations about race to address racial discipline disparities. Full Story

Calculating the Full Price Tag for Youth Incarceration
Sticker Shock: Calculating the Full Price Tag for Youth Incarceration, provides estimates of the overall costs resulting from the negative outcomes associated with incarceration. The report finds that these long-term consequences of incarcerating young people could cost taxpayers $8 billion to $21 billion each year. Executive Summary Full Report Appendix Source

Two programs aimed at keeping kids in school and out of trouble are gaining attention locally and nationally. The Michigan School-Justice Partnership and Pathways to Potential in the schools share the overarching aim of keeping more students in school and off the streets where they can get into trouble. Full Story

From Discipline to Dialogue: An AYPF Blog Series
This blog series highlights the research, policies, and practices that are transforming schools, supporting teachers, and empowering youth voice. Each blog asks a different question related to the problem of discipline disparities, all pointing to opportunities for positive relationships between teachers and students.

With so much attention focused on the problems associated with school discipline, AYPF wanted to create a conversation around solutions. We set out to give thought to and ask questions about what students need in order to stay in the classroom and engaged in learning. This series is intended to be a resource for those who wish to move the conversation from discipline to dialogue. Full Blog

Press Release: New York City Mayor Announces $150 Million Investment to Convert Lowest-Performing Schools Into Community Schools
In a speech yesterday at a school in East Harlem, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his plans to convert the 94 lowest-performing schools in the city into community schools. With an intended investment of $150 million, these schools will implement the community school strategy to offer key opportunities and services to students including health, mental health, and mentoring; more afterschool and summer learning opportunities for students; activities and classes for children, families and community members in the evenings and on weekends; and, an additional hour of instruction per day.Full Story

The Zero-Tolerance Trap: How a Policy Meant to Protect a School Can Ruin Students’ lives.
 When Atiya Haynes’ grandfather gave her a pocketknife in July, she was hesitant to accept the gift. The 17-year-old didn’t want to think she needed a weapon for protection. But her grandfather said that was not a luxury the southwest Detroit native could afford. Full Story

This American Life | 538 | Is This Working?
Stories of schools struggling with what to do with misbehaving kids. There’s no general agreement about what teachers should do to discipline kids. And there’s evidence that some of the most popular punishments actually may harm kids. Listen Here.

OJP Awards $1.9 Million for OJJDP School Justice Partnership Program
The Office of Justice Programs has awarded a $1.9 million grant to the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) to participate in the School Justice Partnership Program: Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court. OJJDP is coordinating with the Department of Education and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to implement this collaboration among schools, mental and behavioral health specialists, law enforcement, and judges to reform school zero-tolerance discipline policies to divert youth from the juvenile justice system. NCJFCJ will establish a National Resource Center on School Justice Partnerships to provide research, training, and technical assistance to respond to student  

Bullying Guidance
As part of National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued guidance in the form of a letter to educators detailing public schools’ responsibilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of Americans with Disabilities Act regarding the bullying of students with disabilities. Guidance letter

Student Tools for Emergency Planning Opportunity
The Michigan State Police is accepting registrations for the popular Student Tools for Emergency Planning (STEP) program.  This FREE preparedness education program provides every 5th grade student in Michigan with confidence and empowerment in difficult situations.  Students will learn about emergencies common to their area, how to assemble an emergency kit, and will complete a family communications plan.  The deadline for schools to register has been extended to November 14, 2014.  Visit STEP REGISTRATION for complete details and registration information.

United Way Connects with Floyd Elementary School Students, Families
Children at Floyd Elementary School have higher reading skills, get needed care during traumatic events, have positive mentors, live in safe homes and more thanks to United Way of Midland County and its partner agencies. Full story

Permanent Expulsion Awaits Western High School Students Suspected of Arson of School Property
The students suspected of starting two fires that damaged buildings owned by the Western School District are suspended and will face permanent expulsion from that district, Superintendent Mike Smajda said. Full story

National Leadership Summit on School Discipline and Climate, Washington D.C. | October 6-7, 2014
The 2014 National Leadership Summit on School Discipline and Climate was designed to continue the conversation that began with the March 2012 National Leadership Summit on School-Justice Partnerships: Keeping Kids In School and Out of Court. Full story

School Pathways to the Juvenile Justice System
Juvenile courts across the nation are facing substantial challenges associated with the unintended consequences of policies such as “zero tolerance.” Full story

Wall Street Journal: Education Officials Flunk Statistics 101
“Big data’ analysis provides insights into everything from school attendance to the progress of talented students. Great explanation of Chronic Absenteeism. Full story

Education Week: Survey Shows Superintendents Say State Laws Limit Discretion In Suspension Decisions
Education Week (7/31) reports in its “Rules For engagement” blog that a recent survey released by the AASA, the School Superintendents Association, and the Children’s Defense Fund shows that 92 percent of superintendents agree that out-of-school suspension have negative consequences, and 71 percent say that state laws and policies have limited districts and schools’ ability to make disciplinary decisions. The article lists other key findings of the survey such as 40 percent of respondents said insubordination, defiance, failure to obey, and disrespect of teachers and staff were the most common cause of out-of-school suspensions. Full story

Allegan Co. News: County Rolls Out Truancy Pilot Program in Allegan
Three Allegan Public Schools principals were sworn in as truancy officers Monday, Aug. 18, as part of a statewide initiative to combat absence and truancy issues. More

The Wall Street Journal: More Schools Open Their Doors to the Whole Community
States and Towns Deliver an Array of Government Services on Campus Full story

ABA Journal: Schools start to rethink zero tolerance policies
Less Than Zero: Schools are rethinking zero tolerance policies and questioning whether the discipline is really effective. Full story

New York Times: How to Get Kids to Class
To Keep Poor Students in School, Provide Social Services. Full story

Supportive School Discipline Initiative Resources Available Online
OJJDP has released an online brief on the Supportive School Discipline Initiative (SSDI), a collaboration between the Departments of Education and Justice in coordination with OJJDP, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other federal partners. SSDI supports school discipline practices that foster safe, supportive, and productive learning environments and keep students engaged in school and out of courts. The brief provides information about SSDI and features links to research, data collection, funding, and related resources, including the school discipline guidance package.


Read more about the Supportive School Discipline Initiative.

Get information on the Supportive School Discipline Webinar series

CNN: Pre-K suspensions target black students
Are stereotypes in American schools creating a preschool to prison pipeline? Sara Sidner reveals some startling numbers. Full story

CSG Justice Center Releases Roadmap for Reforming School Discipline The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center released a comprehensive report providing school leaders and state and local government officials more than 60 recommendations for overhauling their approach to school discipline. The recommendations focus on improving conditions for learning for all students and staff, strengthening responses to student’s behavioral health needs, tailoring school-police partnerships, and minimizing students’ involvement with the juvenile justice system. Full story

One Michigan county has found a way to keep troubled teens out of prison
The results are impressive. According to court data, the average number of juveniles sent to juvenile facilities dropped from 120 in 2001 to 35 in 2010. Recidivism dropped from 56 percent in 1998 to 17.5 percent in 2012. Elvin Gonzalez, who oversaw the programs when he became director of the Family Court in 2001, said the strategy is built on matching high-risk youth with community-based programs with proven track records. Those programs most often begin and end with family. Full story

Council of State Governments Releases School Discipline Consensus Report
On June 3, 2014, the Council of State Governments Justice Center released the School Discipline Consensus Report, a comprehensive set of policy statements and recommendations that public schools and others can use to move beyond discipline and law enforcement responses that inappropriately remove students from the classroom. The report addresses how to improve conditions for learning and use graduated responses to address misbehavior. The Council of State Governments Justice Center worked with a core group of more than 100 experts over the past 3 years to identify evidence-based recommendations to reform disciplinary systems in public schools. Researchers interviewed more than 700 people, including school administrators, justice officials, educational organizations, advocates, students, and parents to develop this comprehensive national roadmap for school discipline reform.

This report was developed with financial support from OJJDP, the Atlantic Philanthropies, the California Endowment, Novo Foundation, and the Open Society Foundations. Access the full report.

State Board of Education Policy on Reducing Student Suspensions and Expulsions
On May 13, 2014, the State Board of Education (SBE) adopted the “Policy on Reducing Student Suspensions and Expulsions.” The SBE remains committed to policies that preserve the safest environment possible for all members of Michigan school communities. The policy is intended to be used as a guide to assist school districts as they develop their own policies to reduce suspensions and expulsions and keep students engaged in a rich learning environment. Full story

Report Highlights Real Reasons Why Students Leave High School
Students who leave high school without graduating often do so because they are overwhelmed by negative factors associated with poverty. They decide to leave school as a result of an unstable home environment, abuse or neglect, a family death or other catastrophic event, and/or the absence of caring adults who might encourage and help them stay in school. Full story

Race, Disability and the School-to-Prison Pipeline
Students at the Cox Academy, a charter school in troubled East Oakland, are benefiting from a pilot program that brings special education resources to every classroom, rather than segregating students who need them. Full story

Report Addresses Suspension and Expulsion Patterns in Schools
The Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Northwest has released Suspension and Expulsion Patterns in Six Oregon School Districts.” This study highlights student exclusionary patterns in urban school districts in Oregon during the 2011-12 school year. The study examines exclusionary discipline by grade, gender, race/ethnicity, and special education status. Key findings include:

  • The percentage of students receiving exclusionary discipline was 2.5 times higher for male students than for female students. The percentage was higher for American Indian, Black, Hispanic, and multiracial students.
  • The most common reasons for suspension and expulsion were physical and verbal aggression and insubordination/disruption.
  • Nearly 40 percent of students who were suspended received more than one suspension.

View and download the full report.

Youth Voice speaks with Let It Rip Weekend on FOX2
Are zero tolerance policies in schools going too far? Recently, a coalition of community organizers and high school students called Youth Voice marched all the way from Detroit to Lansing to shed light on the issue.  Michael Reynolds is the co-president of the group.  He was suspended for what he believes are trivial violations of school rules, and says he’s not alone.  He was joined by Kayla Mason, the director of Youth Voice from the Harriet Tubman Society.  She wants alternatives to suspensions and expulsions to be the norm. Full story

Rally opposing zero-tolerance school suspensions draws students, state superintendent to Michigan Capitol
State Superintendent Mike Flanagan, who spoke briefly at the rally, called the students who participated in the march “remarkable” and said the state needs to address the zero-tolerance issue. “Zero-tolerance was well-intentioned to say the least…we’re supporting, we’re behind this, and we’re trying to get the law amended, but it makes a big difference when they call attention to it like this,” Flanagan said. Full story

March Against Zero Tolerance Policy Planned
The walk is happening at a time when officials at the state and national level are raising concerns that too many kids are being kicked out of school for non-serious offenses. Full story

Muskegon Parents Seek to End ‘Zero Tolerance’ Suspensions
Parents of students attending Muskegon High School are calling on school district officials to change the district’s policy of automatically suspending students and involving the school’s police officer when fights break out. Full story

Obama administration recommends ending ‘zero-tolerance’ policies in schools
“In American schools, black students without disabilities were more than three times as likely as whites to be expelled or suspended, according to government civil rights data collection from 2011-2012. Although black students made up 15 percent of students in the data collection, they made up more than a third of students suspended once, 44 percent of those suspended more than once and more than a third of students expelled.” Full story

Michigan Department of Education Message # 126 – Restorative Justice and the Achievement Gap
“Research demonstrates that when students are removed from the classroom as a disciplinary measure, the odds increase dramatically that they will repeat a grade, drop out, or become involved in the juvenile justice system.” (The Council of State Governments, 2011). Full story

Inter Press News Agency: U.S. Moves to End “School-to-Prison Pipeline”
According to the most recent official data on disparities in U.S. schools, while African Americans constitute around 15 percent of students in the U.S. system, they make up 35 percent of students who have been suspended once and 44 percent of those who have been suspended twice. Those with disabilities are also twice as likely to be suspended as other students. Full story

New York Times: Real Discipline in School
Reducing suspensions improves graduation rates Full story

Ypsilanti School Board of Education first in Michigan to adopt ‘Solutions not Suspensions’ Pledge

Ypsilanti Community Schools are the first school district in Michigan to adopt the statewide Solutions Not Suspensions pledge. They took a stand in prioritizing keeping kids in schools, investing in solutions that really keep schools safe and committed to stopping non-mandatory expulsions Full story or WEMU 89.1 Coverage

Jerome Colwell, Director of Jackson County DHS, dies Sunday at age 58 (Jackson County Team Member)
Together we mourn the loss of Jerome Colwell,” said DHS Director Maura Corrigan in a statement. “But together we must also celebrate a life well-lived in the service of others. Our thoughts and our prayers today are with those he loved and with those he worked closely with for so many years.”Full story

Federal Discipline Guidance Release – Wed Jan 8th
Last week the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice jointly released a groundbreaking guidance package on school discipline aimed at addressing issues that negatively affect student achievement, with a sharp focus on the disproportionate impact policies and practices have on students of color.  The guidelines address improving climates while maintaining safe and supportive environments in our schools for both students and staff, in compliance with federal law.  You can watch a video the announcement and review the guidance package and additional materials online:  Guidance Package Homepage

Zero tolerance’ school reforms hit resistance in Michigan
Eighteen months after state education leaders urged reforms to “zero-tolerance” discipline policies, an analysis of two large Michigan school districts found that they still impose disproportionate numbers of suspensions and expulsions on minority students. Full story

The Center on Youth Justice at the Vera Institute of Justice has released “A Generation Later: What We’ve Learned about Zero Tolerance in Schools.”
This policy brief examines research revealing that zero tolerance discipline policies do not make schools more orderly or safe and might have the opposite effect. Policies that push students out of school might increase their involvement in the juvenile justice system and have negative life-long effects. The brief describes alternatives to zero tolerance policies that keep young people safer and in school. Full story 

Muskegon County awarded a grant by The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, via their School Pathways to Juvenile Justice System Project
The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, via their School Pathways to Juvenile Justice System Project, gave grants to 16 courts, including Muskegon. Full story

The Michigan Supreme Court and DHS awarded Judge Dorene S. Allen a lifetime achievement award for her work on the MCJJ and the Michigan School-Justice Partnership
The Michigan Supreme Court and DHS awarded Judge Dorene S. Allen a lifetime achievement award for her work on the MCJJ and the Michigan School-Justice Partnership. It was held in conjunction with Adoption Day.  Congratulations to Judge Allen for this honor! Full story

Move away from Zero Tolerance across the states caught the attention of Mike Cohen from 1320 WILS
Michigan School-Justice Partnership’s Chair, Judge Dorene S. Allen,  and Director,  Angela M. Cole, were invited to do a live interview with Mike Cohen from 1320 WILS in Lansing regarding the state-wide initiative. Radio clip

NPR Florida School District Trying to Curb “School to Prison” Pipeline
In Florida, one of the nation’s largest school districts has overhauled its discipline policies with a single purpose in mind — to reduce the number of children going into the juvenile justice system. It’s a move away from so-called “zero tolerance” policies that require schools to refer even minor misdemeanors to the police. Critics call it a “school to prison pipeline.” Civil rights and education activists say the policy can be a model for the nation.  Full story

Bridge Magazine: Michigan’s  91,000 truant students: skipping school, skipping opportunity
“Harry Wilson, of the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency, advocates a restorative approach, rather than punitive, to help students who misbehave get back on the right track. Young people are more likely to succeed if they are required to perform community service or help out in the school than if they are suspended or expelled.

‘Anything that takes a kid away from school ends up with that young person more likely to end up in the juvenile justice system,’ Wilson said.” Full story

Oakland County Legal News: Ending ‘school to prison pipeline’ goal of Michigan anti-truancy summit
“Kids who skip or are ousted from school for bad behavior are at risk of dropping out and entering the ‘school to prison pipeline.’ Efforts to find solutions to school truancy–and keep kids from lives of crime–got a boost at the recent ‘Michigan Leadership Summit on School-Justice Partnerships: Keeping Kids in School and Out of the Justice System.’ … The two-day summit, convened in Ann Arbor, involved a wide array of experts on juvenile justice and truancy: juvenile judges [including Midland County Probate Court Judge Dorene S. Allen, who also served as chair of the summit], intermediate school district superintendents, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and community mental health workers.” Full story

Battle Creek Enquirer: Editorial: School suspensions put kids on track to failure
“… Michigan is taking a hard look at disciplinary practices in an effort to disrupt the so-called ‘school to prison pipeline.’ Seventy three-county teams recently met at a summit in Ann Arbor in late September to kick off a three-year implementation of new truancy policies aimed at keeping kids in school.” Full story

Detroit Legal News: Ending ‘school to prison pipeline’ is goal of anti-truancy summit
“Kids who skip or are outsted from school for bad behavior are at risk of dropping out and entering the ‘school to prison pipeline.’ Efforts to find solutions to school truancy and keep kids from lives of crime — got a boost at the recent ‘Michigan Leadership Summit on School-Justice Partnerships: Keeping Kids in School and Out of the Justice System’ … ‘Anyone who works in the juvenile justice system knows that kids who are suspended or expelled are much more likely to drop out altogether,’ said Midland Probate Judge Dorene S. Allen, who also served as chair of the summit.” Full story

Muskegon Chronicle: Are there too many expulsions and suspensions? Muskegon school leaders will explore the issue
“… A Muskegon County ‘juvenile justice task force’ recently attended a two-day summit in Ann Arbor focused on keeping students in school…. The trouble is that suspended and expelled students are more likely to drop out of school and end up in the criminal justice system, said Midland Probate Judge Dorene S. Allen, who chaired the recent statewide summit that involved representatives from 73 counties.” Full story

Press Release: From the Chambers of Honorable Dorene S. Allen
Ending “school to prison pipeline” is goal of Michigan anti-truancy summit

“Governor Rick Snyder, in a message to the participants said ‘When we increase school attendance, when we lower truancy and absenteeism, and when we see fewer kids on the street, it improves the quality of life for all of us.  We will see fewer adults behind bars, fewer people in need of public assistance, and a safer, better educated, and more prosperous Michigan as a result.'” Full story