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October 20, 2021
LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel released the following statement in response to President Joe Biden's executive order creating an interagency workgroup and presidential commission to improve education for Black students and increase opportunities for members of the Black community:
"I commend President Biden for this proactive approach to tackling racial inequity in our communities, and particularly in our schools. The workgroup and commission will highlight the continued inequities throughout our society and help to increase equal access to opportunities for the Black community. This is certainly a step in the right direction. Especially for Black students, it's my hope more will come from the administration focused on embracing restorative practices that will ultimately foster positive school environments for all students."
Last week, Nessel hosted a meeting with members from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), Department of Justice (DOJ) and Michigan educators to highlight important work being done around the state to address disparities in school discipline.
She also launched the Department of Attorney General Restorative Practices Initiative, which is meant to both promote and encourage the use of restorative practice programs that reinforce equitable learning opportunities for students. The initiative continues Nessel's efforts to address the school-to-prison pipeline in partnership with the National Education Association (NEA) and the Michigan Education Association (MEA).
As part of that ongoing effort, in May, Nessel led a coalition of 23 attorneys general, which urged DOE and DOJ to reissue a guidance package previously withdrawn in 2018. The guidance addressed racial disparities in school discipline. The letter also asked that the reissued guidance be expanded to address the disparate use of discipline against students based on their sex, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
In June, DOE issued a Request for Information seeking information to help DOE determine what policy guidance or related resources it should issue to assist schools improve school climate and safety and ensure the nondiscriminatory administration of school discipline. Nessel led a second coalition of attorneys general in responding to DOE's request in July.
While Biden's executive order does not address the guidance package directly, Nessel is encouraged by this focus on addressing racial inequities and the administrations efforts to improve education for Black students. Nessel will continue to advocate for federal support to bolster equity in the classroom.