State law requires the suspension or expulsion of students who bring guns to school, get into physical altercations, or sexually assault students or faculty.
John Austin, president of the Michigan State Board of Education, said the board hopes local school officials consider where their district's policy stands in relation to state law requirements. He said too many students facing multiple offenses ultimately drop out of school, and called that "a tragedy."
“Anytime a student is out of school for any length of time, it contributes to them being disengaged from the learning process,” Austin said.
Grand Haven Area Public Schools Superintendent Keith Konarska said the school already tries limiting the time students spend out of school.
“We have always viewed zero tolerance as making sure a consequence is in place for unacceptable behavior — but whenever possible, working to minimize the time out of school," he said.
Konarska said the district offers alternatives for its high school students.
“We also have the advantage of operating a second high school (Central), and now a Cyber School that creates options for students who need a change in venue to experience success,” he said.
Spring Lake Public Schools Superintendent Dennis Furton said the district has policies in place to reprimand students who fit the criteria for zero-tolerance consequences. Those policies were put into action during the 2010-11 school year after a student brought a knife to school, he said. Although the student didn’t use the weapon, the student was expelled for 180 days because it was mandatory.
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