Are Tasers Appropriate in Schools?

Do Students Need a Shield from the Police?

Image Source: “Police Shield” by Idea go on freedigitalphotos.com

The issues of school safety and discipline have heated up again since the recent stabbing incident in Pennsylvania. The question on a lot of minds is what should school security officers and police officers do to deal with unruly students? In some cases, the answer of the moment is to use a taser – a high-voltage electronic weapon that police consider one step down from deadly force. But are tasers the answer to fist fights and belligerent teens? (more…)

Michigan Upholds Prosecutors’ Duty to Investigate Crimes

Prosecutors Must Provide Exculpatory Evidence to DefendantsThis may come as a surprise, but in criminal cases, prosecuting attorneys are required to investigate the possibility that defendants are innocent. They have a constitutional duty to turn over evidence tending to prove a defendant’s innocence even when that information was known to some other government entity, like the police. For a long time that duty required the information to be otherwise unavailable, but not anymore. (more…)

Students’ Hair Cuts Cause Suspensions

Can a school control a student's haircut?

Sunnie Kahle, 8, said she misses play time the most. Her grandparents withdrew her from school after complaints about her hair and clothes. (Source: WSET/CNN)

School dress codes were big news last week as two separate stories spread over social media about young girls suspended for their haircuts. The stories are different, but both had the same core question: what right does a school have to dictate the physical appearance of its students? (more…)

Free Exercise of Religion Hits Close to Home in Ferndale

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Ferndale Public School District logo

The Ferndale Public School District has had to change its hiring policy after the Mackinaw Center for Public Policy discovered that the current policy explicitly favored “non-Christians.” In a district that is racially and religiously diverse, the policy came as a surprise and required a quick response. (more…)

Michigan Gay Marriage Ban Declared Unconstitutional

Michigan Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down as UnconstitutionalThe day that many Michigan residents have been waiting for has arrived. On March 21, 2014, after an 8 day trial, Federal District Court Judge Bernard Friedman (a Reagan appointee) has declared the Michigan Marriage Act (MMA) unconstitutional. While the effect of the decision was stayed by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on March 22, 2014, the opinion itself will be difficult to overturn. (more…)

School Silences Students to Avoid Pro-Life Messages

School Silences Students to Avoid Pro-Life MessagesIt is not often that civil rights activists agree with the Thomas More Society. The two groups are usually at odds on social issues. But when a Washington high school changed its policy to prohibit all expressive speech rather than allow a pro-life student group to hang posters, the two groups suddenly found themselves on the same side of the argument. (more…)

Teacher Says Suspension Should Be A Last Resort

Panelists Adra Young and Lisa Schmidt with Moderator Alicia Smith

Panelists Adra Young and Lisa Schmidt with Moderator Alicia Smith at the United Methodist Women’s Anti-Bullying Workshop on March 8, 2014

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of meeting Detroit Public School teacher and advocate, Adra Young, at a panel discussion on Anti-Bullying. Her words were inspiring, but more than that, she demonstrated a level of commitment to her students that often seems missing in urban districts. In light of her passion, I wanted to take a moment to feature a recent article from her educational blog. (more…)

A Field Guide to Grassroots Anti-Bullying Advocacy

How to Stop Bullying in Your SchoolBullying has been a hot topic for years. In 2011, President Obama began a nationwide campaign to end bullying in schools. And yet, the issue is still in the news. Last November, Miami Dolphins lineman Jonathan Martin left the team because of the abusive environment. Whether in the schools, the locker rooms, or the workplace, harassment is a serious problem best addressed at the local level. (more…)

What Happens if My Roommate Lets the Police In?

Can Your Roommate Consent to a Police Search?It seems like everyone has a roommate these days. Whether it is a spouse, partner, friend, or just someone to help pay the rent, almost everyone shares their home with someone. So what happens if the police come to search your home? Can your roommate let them in over your objection? (more…)

Custody for LGBT Families is Complicated. Here’s Why.

Michigan Considers Marriage EqualityThe Michigan Marriage Equality trial started Tuesday in the United States District Court in Detroit. It is scheduled to continue for 8 days and is focusing so far on the ability and challenges for LGBT couples raising children. The Free Press summarized Wednesday’s testimony by University of Michigan law professor Vivek Sankaran, saying

“When a parent in a same-sex relationship dies, the surviving partner faces a quagmire of legal hurdles to gain custody of any kids.”

Here’s why.

(more…)