Over the recent years, many studies have attempted to shed light on the negative impacts and gaps of exclusionary discipline practices within Michigan schools. Research shows that students who face suspension and expulsion are as much as 10 times more likely to drop-out of highschool, experience student trauma, have negative disciplinary records, experience low academic achievement, and contact with the criminal justice system than those who are not. Students facing these outcomes are at a greater risk of being funneled into what we know as the school-to prison pipeline. Unfortunately, these practices have impacted a higher number of students, in addition to disproportionately affecting higher rates of minority students and students with disabilities.
Even though efforts have been made at the state level to revise school discipline issues, current policies do not offer clear alternatives to relying on exclusionary practices or address underlying factors that strongly contribute to the persisting gaps and patterns. To reverse these persisting trends, Michigan’s legislature should: mandate that restorative practices be considered initially for all behaviors while using a tier system, provide funding and additional support for school districts struggling to implement restorative practices, and provide school districts with funds to engage in culturally relevant professional-development for all staff associated with students.