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 This information was provided by Al Bush, MIAAA Attorney at the May 9, 2017 Board of Directors meeting - 

 

The school code MCLA 380 et sec. is being amended as of August 1, 2017 to reflect some changes in the handling of certain weapons on school premises in the coming school year. At the present, a school board is required to expel a student for possessing a weapon unless the student establishes, in a clear and convincing manner at least one of the following:

  1. The object or instrument possessed by the student was not possessed for use as a weapon, or for direct or indirect delivery to another person for use as a weapon.
  2. The weapon was not knowingly possessed by the student.
  3. The pupil did not know or have reason to know that the object or instrument possessed constituted a dangerous weapon.
  4. The weapon was possessed by the pupil at the suggestion, request, or direction of, or the express permission of school or police authorities.

Under the amended statutes, the district must consider all of the following factors:

  1. The pupil’s age
  2. The pupil’s disciplinary history
  3. Whether the pupil is a student with a disability
  4. The seriousness of the violation or behavior committed by the pupil
  5. Whether the violation or behavior committed by the pupil threatened the safety of any pupil or staff member
  6. Whether restorative practices will be used to address the violation or behavior committed by the pupil
  7. Whether a lesser intervention would properly address the violation or behavior committed by the pupil.

This new section gives the school board or its designee discretion over whether or not to suspend or expel a pupil except it does not apply to a pupil being permanently expelled for possessing a firearm in a weapon free school zone. Thus, when considering the permanent expulsion of a student for possessing a firearm on school property the Board may only reduce the expulsion if the student establishes one of the four exceptions ( listed above) in a clear and convincing manner.

In exercising this discretion with regard to a suspension of more than 10 days or an expulsion, there is a rebuttable presumption that a suspension or expulsion,  that either is not justified unless the Board or its designee can demonstrate that it has considered each of the pre-disciplinary factors. For a suspension of 10 or fewer days , there is no rebuttable presumption , but the Board or designee must consider each of the pre-disciplinary factors prior to making a decision on the suspension.

The method used for consideration of the pre-disciplinary factors is at the sole discretion of a school board or its designee.

The statute goes on to create restorative practices emphasizing repairing the harm to the victim and school community by the pupil’s misconduct. The amendments include procedural sub-sections for restorative practices culminating in a signed agreement by all participants.

There is also a new section where the legislature encourages the use of restorative practices in correction of bullying behavior.

ASB