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About the Michigan Department of Education School Discipline Toolkit

The mission of the Michigan State Board of Education (SBE) is: "All students graduate ready for careers, college, and community." Numerous studies have shown that exclusionary discipline often sets the stage for student disenfranchisement, academic failure, dropout, and potential criminalization. This runs counter to the SBE's mission and goal that all students graduate prepared for careers, college, and community.

Further, based on a preponderance of research, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) links school attendance with academic success and links exclusionary discipline with lower school performance and higher rates of students' academic failure.

This toolkit is designed to provide school districts with research-based social and emotional learning strategies and options designed to promote positive behavior and modify negative behavior while holding students accountable and minimizing exclusion time.

If you are a school administrator and your building has been identified as having an achievement gap, or if you are not familiar with recent findings regarding disparities in school discipline, here is what you should know:

  • Black males are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than that of their white peers for the same actions.
  • Students with disabilities are more than twice as likely to experience exclusionary forms of discipline like suspension or expulsion.
  • "Student misconduct" is among the most common reasons for student referrals, resulting in detention and/or suspension.
  • In January 2014, the USED and the U.S. Department of Justice released federal guidance on district implementation of discipline policies, emphasizing their obligation under titles IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act to ensure equitable treatment of all students.
  • A growing field of research has also uncovered the long-term consequences of zero tolerance discipline and its disproportionate impacts on subgroups such as minorities or students with disabilities.

To learn more on this subject view From Disciplining to Dialogue: Changing the Conversation about Classroom Discipline.

To learn more about Culturally Responsible Practices in Schools click here.

Schools and districts are re-thinking their policies in order to minimize the use of zero tolerance discipline, keep students in the classroom, and build positive relationships between teachers, administrators, and students.

To this end, the SBE strongly urges school districts to review existing zero tolerance policies and to adopt practices that allow educators to address disciplinary matters as opportunities for learning instead of punishment. The Model Code of Student Conduct serves as a guide for following the SBE Policy on Reducing Student Suspensions and Expulsions.