Michigan School Suspension and Expulsion Laws
When faced with allegations of misconduct, Michigan schools will often take disciplinary actions against students, like suspending or expelling them. While educational institutions have an obligation to provide a safe and conducive learning environment, they cannot infringe on the rights of students when attempting to discipline perceived misconduct. If your child is facing a suspension or expulsion, it is important to understand their options and what measures you can take to protect their interests and their future. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is a knowledgeable Ann Arbor criminal defense attorney who is adept at helping students guard their reputations, and if you engage his services, he will fight to help you seek a just outcome.Michigan School Suspension and Expulsion Laws
Suspension and expulsion are disciplinary measures that schools use to address student misconduct. Michigan, like many other states, has specific laws that govern the disciplinary measures schools can employ. Namely, the Revised School Code (the Code) dictates that each school district in Michigan has the authority to develop a local discipline policy. The Code further provides that local districts, intermediate school districts, and public school academies must develop and enforce a code of student conduct that addresses student misconduct in various settings, such as classrooms, school premises, school buses, and school-sponsored activities. The Michigan Department of Education provides a Model Code of Student Conduct as a guide.
Broadly speaking, the Code allows a local school board or its designee to suspend or expel students for “persistent disobedience or gross misdemeanor” after considering the seven factors specified in the Code. These factors include the student's age, disciplinary history, disability, seriousness of the behavior, safety risk, use of restorative practices, and the level of intervention required.
The Code states that expulsion, which results in the permanent removal of a child from a school, should generally be the last resort and that less severe alternatives should be considered; there is certain conduct that compels expulsion, however, like the possession of a weapon in a school zone, sexual assault, and physical assault. The specific grounds for expulsion can vary but generally include behavior such as possession of weapons, violence, drug offenses, and repeated serious misconduct. Suspension is a temporary removal of a student from school for a specific period. Michigan law permits schools to suspend students for various reasons, including disruptive behavior, violation of school policies, or threats to safety. The duration of suspension can vary, ranging from a few days to several weeks.Defenses to Measures Taken Under Michigan’s School Suspension and Expulsion Laws
Schools are required to follow due process when considering expulsion. This includes providing notice to the student and parents, an opportunity for a hearing, and the right to present evidence and witnesses. A student’s precise due process rights depend, in part, on the disciplinary measures proposed by the school. If the school fails to adhere to these procedural requirements, it arguably constitutes a violation of the student’s due process rights.
Students facing suspension or expulsion have the right to challenge the evidence presented against them. If the evidence is weak or contradictory, they may be able to argue that there are insufficient grounds to remove them from the school. Similarly, if a student facing expulsion can show that less severe measures are available and appropriate, they can assert that the punishment is disproportionate to the offense.
Finally, schools must adhere to their own policies when imposing suspensions. If it can be demonstrated that the school failed to follow its own policies or acted arbitrarily in imposing the suspension, an argument can be made that the school violated its own policy.Talk to a Skilled Ann Arbor Attorney
Understanding Michigan’s school expulsion and suspension laws is crucial for parents and students faced with potential disciplinary actions that carry significant consequences. If your child is accused of engaging in behavior that could lead to a suspension or expulsion, it is prudent to talk to an attorney about your options. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is a skilled Ann Arbor criminal defense lawyer who understands the nuances of Michigan’s school laws, and he can help you take the steps necessary to protect your child’s education and future opportunities. Our office is located in Ann Arbor, and we regularly assist students and parents with school expulsion and suspension proceedings throughout Michigan, including cities in Ann Arbor, East Lansing, Dearborn, and Flint. You can reach us through our online form or by calling us at (734) 883-9584 to set up a confidential and free consultation.