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Snyder signs new bills that overhaul Michigan zero tolerance laws

Snyder signs new bills that overhaul Michigan zero tolerance laws. (File - WWMT)

LANSING, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - New laws are expected to roll back strict zero tolerance policies that many people feel are unfairly kicking kids out of school.

Political reporter Nick Minock reported from Lansing with a closer look at the legislation.

Governor Rick Snyder signed a package of bills that would keep Michigan kids from being immediately expelled or suspended from school.

Representative Andy Schor, D-Lansing, helped pass bills to overhaul a Michigan law that resulted in the suspension and expulsion of several Michigan kids for relatively minor misbehavior in the classroom.

Schor said, “We have too many kids who are getting thrown out of school and they end up causing trouble on the streets, going to jail, going to prison and now you have this school to prison pipeline."

A pipeline Schor is trying to close.

According to a 2013 memo from Michigan Department of Education, Michigan is among the top ten states in the country for high rates of suspending students with disabilities.

Black students with disabilities were being suspended at a rate of 27 percent and, according to the 2013 memo, the majority of suspensions are for relatively minor misbehavior, including truancy, disruptive behavior, insubordination, and school fights.

Schor said, "We've got situations where we have kids who come to school and maybe they bring a butter knife or they don't realize their hunting knife is in their backpack. Yet the zero tolerance laws say there is zero tolerance we are going to suspend you, we are going to expel you based on the law."

The new measures Schor introduced will require school officials to consider a number of factors such as a student's age and disciplinary history, and the seriousness of the misbehavior before suspension or expulsion.

Nixing the zero tolerance policies in Michigan received wide support from Republicans like Peter Lucido.

Representative Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, said, “I like it a lot."

The bills also push schools to consider using restorative practices to try to resolve conflicts among students.

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