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What you need to know about Michigan’s new restorative justice law [with infographics]

October 25, 2018

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Restorative-Justice-Header-ImageYour Guide to Restorative Justice in Michigan Schools: This blog is the first in our upcoming series on Restorative Justice in Michigan Schools. In the coming weeks, we will be releasing articles on the dangers of zero-tolerance policies, restorative justice 101, and strategies for implementation in schools and classrooms. Subscribe to our blog to receive notifications when these resources are available!

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What you need to know about Michigan’s new restorative justice law

Michigan's new law on restorative justice has put pressure on schools to rethink their school discipline programs.

From the district level to individual classrooms, educators are being asked to follow a new set of guidelines when it comes to disciplining students who violate school policies.

Here's what Michigan educators need to know about this new law: 

In December 2016, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a law that requires Michigan schools to consider using restorative practices as an alternative to zero-tolerance policies like suspension or expulsion, which have been shown to have an array of damaging effects on certain student populations. You can see a screenshot of the language from this bill below:

Restorative Justice Bill Language

Essentially, schools are being asked to consider seven factors before resorting to the suspension or expulsion of students. You can see these seven factors broken down in the infographic below:

7 factors to consider before resorting to suspension or expulsion under Michigan's new restorative justice law: 1) student's age, 2) disciplinary history, 3) disability, 4) seriousness of behavior, 5) safety risk, 6) use of restorative practices, and 7) level of intervention necessary

This law does not say that schools can never suspend or expel a student for deviant behavior. It simply asks them to be more intentional about who they are submitting to zero tolerance policies and why.

Before making any decisions, schools are asked to evaluate these factors and then ask:

Would a lesser intervention than suspension or expulsion appropriately address this behavior?

If the answer is yes, then schools ought to first turn to restorative practices.

If the answer is no, they still have the right to suspend or expel a student, so long as they can justify this response.

"We are giving school districts the flexibility to consider many factors when making decisions on disciplinary actions for students," Gov. Snyder says. "No longer will every student be immediately suspended or expelled due to misconduct. This is similar to measures we have taken to reform our criminal justice system by emphasizing restorative justice."

When dealing with the seven common infractions listed below, the state recommends trying restorative practices as a first step:


7 infractions best addressed by restorative practices: 1) interpersonal conflict 2) bullying 3) verbal and physical conflicts, 4) theft, 5) property damage, 6) class disruption, 7) harassment and cyberbullying

More serious crimes — such as bringing a firearm to school — are still grounds for automatic expulsion. What we’re seeing here isn’t zero tolerance against zero tolerance policies, but rather, a push away from our ineffective and harmful history of removing students in need from schools and toward a system with more positive and long-lasting effects.

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Your Guide to Restorative Justice in Michigan Schools
This blog is the first in our upcoming series on Restorative Justice in Michigan Schools. In the coming weeks, we will be releasing articles on:

Subscribe to our blog to receive notifications when these blogs are released, and we'll send a copy straight to your inbox. 

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