I was recently at a pd where we were getting information from the district lawyers that we needed to add to our student handbooks. With the new legislature coming down for next school year changes have to be made. The old language has the district and schools having more leeway to suspend students over 10 days. However, with the latest research showing the link between suspensions and jail that is no longer the case. The new default position is that students shouldn’t be suspended longer than 10 days and if you do so, you have to prove that is is necessary. The following mandated questions must be addressed if you wish to suspend a student for longer than 10 days.
1. Students’ age
Age may be a mitigating factor if a student is 6th grade or under. Parents, guardians and student advocates could easily argue that a student is too young to understand the long term results of their actions.
2. Disciplinary History
Was this a one time thing where the student got caught up in the wrong crowd or is there consistent discipline issues of the same type of behavior?
Does the student have a disability. This doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be consequences for actions but are those actions a by product of the disability?
4. Seriousness of behavior
Does the behavior warrant a suspension longer than 10 days or was someone’s feelings just hurt?
5. Did pose safety risk
This is similar to seriousness of behavior. In this case they seemed to be speaking about physical safety and not emotional safety.
6. Restorative Practice
Restorative practice focuses is on repairing the harm to victims and the school community caused by the misconduct of a student. That being said was any type of restorative practice used or could it be used instead of or in conjunction with suspension?
7. Lesser intervention address behavior
This could tie into restorative practice but could also include something like community service. The purpose of the intervention would be to address the behavior and get the student back in school in less than 10 days.
These 7 factors are required by the new Michigan Legislation 1310d. Principals must consider these factors before suspending a child for longer than 10 days. Remember the default position is that a suspension is not justified and must be proven.
*If you’d like to have a form of the checklist shared with you so you can make a copy click here.
Will these seven factors disrupt your discipline procedures? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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I'm a Principal and an Entrepreneur. I'm the former owner of a food venture Hustling Hoagies, the author of the children's picture books Detective Dwayne Drake and the Alphabet Thief, Detective Dwayne Drake and The Case of the Mathematical Misfit and the ebook Making it as a Male Model in Michigan. I've worked professionally as a model and commercial actor......