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New Laws Affecting the 2017-2018 School Year

Jennifer Smith

By Jennifer Smith, MASB Director of Government Relations

DashBoard, Aug. 2, 2017

The Legislature has passed a few new laws in the last year that will affect school districts. Some have already gone into effect, some will soon. The following is a brief description of what’s new for the upcoming school year.

Public Acts 360-366 of 2016—Repeal of Zero Tolerance Laws

These laws, which were signed in December, amend all of the zero tolerance sections of law to require that certain factors be given consideration before expelling or suspending a student, including the student’s age, disciplinary history and the seriousness of the offense. Additionally, they encourage the use of restorative justice practices before expelling or suspending a student. These changes took effect on Aug. 1, 2017.

Public Acts 394-402 of 2016—Restrictions on the Use of Seclusion and Restraint in School

These laws limit the use of seclusion and restraint in schools. They do allow for emergency seclusion and restraint on a very limited basis to protect the dignity and safety of the pupil or others. These changes took effect on March 29, 2017, so most of your district’s policies should have already been adjusted. MDE recently issued an updated policy for emergency use of seclusion and restraint that reflect the new law.

Public Act 92 of 2017—Changes to the Public School Retirement System

As we’ve previously reported, the Legislature passed reforms to the current MSPERS system in June. There are three different effective dates to be aware of:

Sept. 29, 2017, 5 p.m.: Ban on purchasing service credits for any reason other than military service takes effect.

Oct. 1, 2017: Increase in contributions to the current defined contribution plans goes into effect (the employer deposits 4% of the employee's salary into a 401k or 401k-style plan, and match the employee's contributions, up to another 3% of salary, for a maximum possible employer contribution of 7% of salary when an employee contributed at least 3%).

Feb. 1, 2018: All new hires go into the new retirement system established under this law.

Public Act 108 of 2017—2017/2018 School Aid Budget Policy Changes

For more information on some of the major budget items, please check our comparison document or the analysis from the House Fiscal Agency, which reflects the conference agreement but does not take into account the few small vetoes the Governor made. 

At-Risk (Sec. 31a): Expands eligibility for at-risk dollars to economically disadvantaged students and all districts, as well as certain English Language Learners. However, hold-harmless and out-of-formula districts would receive 30% of the amount otherwise calculated. It also expands the goals of the program to include math proficiency in 8th grade and pupils attending school regularly and expands the requirement that a district uses a multitiered system of support from K-3 to K-8. Effective Oct. 1, 2017.

Special Education in Cyberschool Academies (Sec. 51a): Requires that IDEA funds for eligible cyberschool students flow through the ISD where the cyberschool is located and then to the cyberschool. That ISD is also required to provide monitoring and compliance for eligible students at the cyberschool. Effective July 14, 2017.

Pre-Labor Day Start Waivers (Sec. 160): Requires a district seeking a waiver to start school before Labor Day to hold a public hearing with MDE in the district. Effective Oct. 1, 2017.

Legal Action Against the State (Sec. 164g): Establishes a penalty of an amount equal to that spent by a district to sue the state. Effective Oct. 1, 2017.

Collective Bargaining Agreement Penalty (Sec. 164h): Establishes a penalty of 5% of state aid if a district enters into a CBA with specific characteristics. Effective Oct. 1, 2017.

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