The Michigan Civil Rights Commission will hold two public hearings in Traverse City to examine discrimination in Michigan’s K-12 schools, the first on Monday July 23 and the second on Tuesday July 24.
Both hearings will take place at the Grand Traverse Resort, located at 100 Grand Traverse Village Blvd. in Williamsburg, Michigan.
The July 23 hearing will be held in the Tower Ballroom and will begin at 3:30 pm. At this hearing, Commissioners are specifically interested in hearing testimony on issues affecting rural students, students experiencing homelessness and students from migrant and seasonal farmworker families. The public comment period is expected to begin at approximately 6:30 pm.
The July 24 hearing will be held in Governor’s Hall E and F and will begin at 9:30 am. At this hearing, Commissioners are specifically interested in hearing testimony from or related to Indigenous/Native American youth. The public comment period is expected to begin at approximately 9:30 am.
For the full agendas for both public hearings, go to: https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdcr/Hearing_Agendas_July_23_and_24_abbrev_FINAL_627933_7.pdf
The Commission will also hold its regularly-scheduled Commission meeting at Grand Traverse Resort on Monday, July 23rd at 1:00 pm, in the Tower Ballroom, just prior to the first public hearing on discrimination in education.
“In order for residents to take advantage of the opportunities that Michigan offers, we must address the educational challenges facing students of color and students with special needs when it comes to services and proficiency in reading, math, and career and college readiness,” said Agustin V. Arbulu, Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, the operational arm of the Commission. “With these hearings, the Commission hopes to get a clearer picture of the challenges, and in the end, to bring attention to our educational crisis and offer insights into addressing it.”
The Commission Resolution on the hearings says, in part:
“Based on the opinion of multiple experts across the State of Michigan who unanimously assert that Michigan’s educational system is in crisis, and based on reports that show that minority and special needs students are the most vulnerable based on inequities documented in the MCRC Flint Water Crisis Report published in February 2017; . . . The Michigan Civil Rights Commission shall convene a series of public hearings to accept and/or compel testimony to address the question of whether the Civil Rights of underserved students in Michigan have been violated or abridged.”
In addition to public comment, Commissioners will hear from speaker panels at both hearings.
At the July 23 hearing, Panel #1 will focus on challenges facing migrant children in pre and K-12 education settings, and will feature:
- Deb Neddo, TBAISD Migrant Seasonal Student Liaison: an overview of migrant education services to local students, resources and challenges
- Michele Williams, Migrant Education Program Consultant, Michigan Dept. of Education: overview of MDE Migrant education resources, state programming, successes and challenges
- Pedro Martinez, Van Buren ISD Administrator and Guillermo Martinez, Van Buren ISD Migrant Outreach Worker: work with local migrant students, challenges and successes
- Marcelino Tapia, MSFW parent: experience of a MSFW parent with children in K-12 system
- Aleida Martinez, former migrant child and Student Services Coordinator, MSU Migrant Student Services: an overview and challenges growing up as a migrant child and securing a K-12 education
Panel #2, focused on challenges and issues pertaining to K-12 education and homelessness, students with special needs and rural school challenges, will feature:
- Ryan Hannon, Street Outreach Coordinator, Goodwill Northern Michigan: experience and challenges of transient students and students experiencing homelessness
- Carol Greilick, TBAISD Asst. Superintendent of Special Education: an overview of regional special education services, resources and challenges
- Melissa Isaac, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe Education Director: disparities in special education (especially students of color) and challenges faced by students and families
- Rebekah TenBrink, LIFT TEEN CENTER Director: coordinating resources and addressing the needs of marginalized students in rural areas
At the July 24 hearing, Panel #3 will focus on indigenous/native students experience in public schools; trauma and urban school setting. Speakers include:
- Eric Hemenway, Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians: role of teachers including native voice and role of land-based curriculum in public schools
- Hunter Genia, LMSW, Anishinabek: an overview of historic boarding school trauma and its impact on current generation’s educational experience
- Sam Morseau, Education Director, Pokagon Band of the Potawatomi: benefits of state-tribe collaboration and the data-sharing agreement as method for improving educational success
- Michelle Shulte, Project Director for Honoring Our Children: an overview of Native student profile, common challenges, accessibility to educational resources
ASL interpreters and CART will be available for both hearings. The building is accessible and parking is free.
If you need another accommodation to participate, contact the Michigan Department of Civil Rights at 800-482-3604 or e-mail MDCR-INFO@michigan.gov as soon as possible prior to the meeting. Accommodation requests received less than 7 business days before the meeting cannot be guaranteed, but efforts will be made to provide the accommodation requested.
Individuals who wish to submit comments in writing for the Commission’s consideration should send them by email to MCRC-Comments@michigan.gov. All comments submitted on this issue will be posted on the Department’s website, www.michigan.gov/mdcr.
The Michigan Civil Rights Commission was created by the Michigan Constitution to safeguard constitutional and legal guarantees against discrimination. The Commission is charged with investigating alleged discrimination against any person because of religion, race, color or national origin, sex, age, marital status, height, weight, arrest record, and physical and mental disability.
The Michigan Department of Civil Rights, the operational arm of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, is charged with investigating and resolving discrimination complaints and works to prevent discrimination through educational programs that promote voluntary compliance with civil rights laws. The Department also provides information and services to businesses on diversity initiatives and equal employment law. For more information on the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, go to www.michigan.gov/mdcr.