LANSING, MI (WLNS) – Members and supporters of the group Youth Voice, a project of the Harriet Tubman Center, gathered with a message to state lawmakers across the state.
They feel changes need to be made to schools’ zero tolerance policy.
As 6 News Reporter Nick Perreault explains, it’s a message they hope is heard “loud and clear.”
They made the 80-mile trek by foot from Detroit to end up at the Capitol steps.
“A detention or an in school suspension” is what 16-year-old Michael Reynolds says he should’ve received for forgetting his ID. Instead, he got kicked out of school for five days and was fined $600 by police.
“Even though my body hurts and aches, my calves hurt because I walked over 60 miles, I’m willing to walk, because it’s my education that’s on the line, that’s my future,” said Michael Reynolds, Youth Voice President.
So this 16-year-old, his group Youth Voice and even teachers stood on steps to let the legislature know change needs to happen to schools’ zero tolerance policy.
“I have seen students get suspended for the most ridiculous, non-sensible things.”
A teacher says those disciplinary actions included wearing the wrong kind of pants.
“Schools are often using zero tolerance as a way to push kids out that they see are problematic, even if it’s not a behavior related infraction,” said Lauren Fardig-Diop, Psychology Coordinator, Eastern Michigan University.
It’s a stance that’s caught the attention of State Representative Thomas Hooker.
“We want to protect young people in the school, make sure that they are safe, but on the same token we want to keep them in school,” said State Rep. Thomas Hooker (r), 77th District.
Representative Hooker says he’s ready to work on bills to modify school’s zero tolerance policy
“Walking up those stairs to that podium showed me there is still hope.”
The Michigan Director of Human Services, Maura Corrigan also announced her interest in working with lawmakers for policy change.