12 Michigan School Districts Move To Reduce Suspensions

Nov 16, 2017

Some Michigan schools are working to reduce the use of suspensions and expulsions after being cited by the state for using the disciplinary measures on special education students of color more frequently than other groups.

The state Department of Education's annual "Significant Disproportionality" list found 12 school districts that disciplined black or Hispanic special education students at least three times more frequently than other groups, The Detroit News reported .

"The reason this is such an import issue is suspension is so detrimental to kids," said Teri Chapman, director of the department's Office of Special Education. "When we look at data and see a disproportional impact, that warrants questions. They have to be able to look at the data and say, 'Is this in all your buildings or is it a certain teacher?"

Chippewa Valley Schools, Dearborn City Schools, Grosse Pointe Public Schools, Troy School District, Airport Community Schools, Ann Arbor Public Schools, Berrien Springs Public Schools, Forest Hills Public Schools, Kelloggsville Public Schools and Northwest Community Schools were cited for suspending black students disproportionately.

Harper Creek Community Schools was on the list for disciplining Hispanic students more frequently while Mount Clemens Community School District was cited for its rate of disciplining students of two or more races.

Districts on the list are required to use 15 percent of its special education funding toward early intervention services. Districts must also review and revise discipline polices.

State lawmakers approved a new rule in 2016 that requires districts to use "restorative practices" that encourage students to talk about their issues, learn empathy and gain a sense of personal responsibility.