New Laws Grant Schools Authority to Discipline for Off-Campus Sexual Assault

On May 9, 2018, Governor Snyder signed a package of three laws aimed at protecting student sexual assault victims who attend school with the perpetrator. These laws, which will take effect on August 8, 2018, may have significant implications for our clients.

The first of the three laws requires courts to prohibit a student adjudicated for criminal sexual conduct or assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct from attending the same school building or riding the same school bus as the victim. The perpetra­tor, not the school, is responsible for complying with such a court order.

The second law specifically allows a sexual assault victim to seek a personal protection order against a student perpetrator who attends the same school building as the victim. Again, the perpetra­tor, not the school, is responsible for complying with a personal protection order.

If a student perpetrator is a student with a disability and is prohibited from attending a particular school or riding a bus, the school may be obligated by the Individuals with Disabilities Educa­tion Act or Section 504 to find alternative schooling or transportation for the student.

The third law specifically amends the Revised School Code to expand a school’s latitude to discipline for off-campus sexual assaults against students. State law already mandates, subject to consideration of the seven mitigating factors outlined in Section 1310 of the Revised School Code, permanent expulsion of a student who “commits criminal sexual conduct in a school building or on school grounds.” The new law also allows a school to suspend or expel a student who commits off-campus criminal sexual conduct against another student in the district. It also mandates, subject to the seven factors, permanent expulsion of a student who “pleads to, is convicted of, or is adjudicated for criminal sexual conduct” against another student in the district.

We are working to develop comprehensive guidance, including a Q & A, on the impact these laws have on our clients’ discipline procedures well before the 2018-2019 school year begins.