Senate panel OKs Zorn bill to help students in military families

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to have Michigan join several other states, including Ohio, in creating a Purple Star program to support students of military families when they move to a new school was approved Tuesday by the Senate Local Government Committee.

“When military service men or women are assigned a new duty station, their children often face significant challenges with learning gaps and disruptions as they relocate to new schools and communities,” said Zorn. R-Onsted. “These challenges can stem from a wide variety of issues, like differences in graduation requirements, problems with course placements, and difficulties with children connecting socially or emotionally at a new school.

“My bill would create a Purple Star program in our state to help fill those learning gaps and keep these children on track toward graduation.”

According to the Military State Policy Source, the average military-connected child will experience six to nine different schools during their K-12 education.

Senate Bill 530 would require the state Department of Education (MDE) to establish the Purple Star Program in Michigan by 2023.

Under the bill, a school could become a Purple Star Designated School if they:

  • Apply to MDE for the designation;
  • Assign a staff member to be a military liaison;
  • Provide additional information on the district website;
  • Maintain a transition program for students; and
  • Require professional development opportunities for staff.

A school would also need to offer a resolution supporting military families or establish a partnership with a local military site.

Zorn said 21 other states have already created a Purple Star program and Michigan is one of 18 others that are in the legislative process of creating one.

The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.