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Education Policy Fellowship Program

Zero Tolerance Policy

March 3, 2014
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Kellogg Center, MSU

Purpose: To examine Zero Tolerance Policies and their impact on schools, education, and students.  In addition, to examine how these policies stretch beyond the school environment and have a broader social and economic impact. Specifically, zero tolerance policies have been strongly linked to the school-to-prison pipeline and recent research conducted by the National Education Policy Center found that zero tolerance policies put children at an increased risk of truancy and incarceration.  The past and present of zero tolerance will be highlighted.  Please review the resource links provided below for background information on this issue and come prepared to participate in our group discussion.


Desired Outcomes:

  1. Have a general understanding of zero tolerance, including but not limited to:Gain perspective on the impacts of zero tolerance policies at the school levelGain perspective on the impacts of zero tolerance policies at the school levelGain perspective on the impacts of zero tolerance policies at the school level
    1. Components of zero tolerance at the National level
    2. Components of zero tolerance at the State/Local level
    3. How and why zero tolerance policies were developed
      1. Zero tolerance policy link to school to prison pipeline
  2. Gain perspective on the impacts of zero tolerance policies at the school level
  3. Gain perspective on the larger social and economic impacts related to zero tolerance policies, specifically focusing on incarceration


9:00AM - 9:05AM Welcome and Introduction
9:05AM - 9:25AM  Activator – School to Prison Pipeline Game, Small Groups (with Debriefing)
9:25AM – 9:45AM: Review of National and State Zero Tolerance Policies (Handout)
9:45AM – 10:15AM:   History/Background of Zero Tolerance Policy, Link to School to Prison Pipeline
10:15AM – 10:30AM: Questions/Discussion (Canned Questions)
10:30AM – 11:00AM: Speaker 1, Kyle L. Guerrant, MDE
11:00AM – 11:30AM: Speaker 2, Dr. Jennifer Cobbina, MSU
11:30AM – 11:45AM: Discussion with Both Speakers and Whole Group

Speaker Biographies

Kyle L. Guerrant, LMSW, Director, Office of School Support Services, Michigan Department of Education (MDE).   Kyle has been a strong leader and advocate in youth health, development, and safety issues in community-based non-profits, local schools, and state government for over 12 years.  Currently, he is the Director of the Office of School Support Services at the Michigan Department of Education (MDE).  Kyle and his team are charged with improving the health and educational outcomes of Michigan students through the implementation of Coordinated School Health initiatives. His office has a broad set of responsibilities that include USDA Child Nutrition Programs, primary care, and mental health services, as well as bullying prevention, health and physical education.  Previously, Kyle served as the Supervisor of the Coordinated School Health and Safety Programs unit at MDE, and as the Acting Manager of the Safe and Drug Free Schools Program at the Michigan Department of Community Health.  Kyle earned a bachelor’s degree (BA) in psychology (Child Development) from Long Island University, and a master’s degree in social work (MSW) from the University of Michigan.  He has served on numerous organizational boards ranging in focus from youth homelessness to adolescent sexual health.  In 2007-08, Kyle was also selected as a fellow in Michigan State University’s Educational Policy Fellowship Program. 

Jennifer E. Cobbina is an assistant professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University.  Her primary research focuses on the issue of corrections, prisoner reentry and the understanding of recidivism and desistance among recently released female offenders.  Her second primary research area is centered on examining how gender and social context impact victimization risks among minority youth.  She is currently a co-principal investigator on a team of researchers that was awarded research grants from the National Science Foundation and the Michigan State University Foundation to examine how probation and parole officer interaction with female drug offenders affects recidivism, rule violations, and changes in crime-related needs.  Dr. Cobbina’s work appears in Criminology, Justice Quarterly, Crime and Delinquency, Deviant Behavior, Journal of Criminal Justice, Sociological Inquiry, Journal of Drug Issues, Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, and Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture.

Learning Team Members:

Kim Kovalchick

Elizabeth Kuzma

Howard Leikert

Ted Ransaw

Jacqueline Swanson


Resource Material

Zero Tolerance Article


Primer for the participants:


Additional information:

January 8, 2014- Joint letter from DOJ and USED on school disciplinary practices and the possibility of civil rights investigations:


January 8, 2014 letter from Sec. Duncan which went out the same day as the joint guidance letter from DOJ and USED:


General website for National Leadership Summit on School-Justice Partnerships, Michigan involved in and sent team.


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