Zorn sponsors bill to help students in military families

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday introduced 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.

“Many kids and families face significant challenges with learning gaps and disruptions as they relocate to new schools and communities due to a parent’s change in duty station assignment,” said Zorn. R-Ida. “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.

“This bill would create a 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 local school district 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;
• Require professional development opportunities for staff;
• Offer a resolution supporting military families; and
• Establish a partnership with a local military site.

Zorn said 30 other states have already created or are in the legislative process of creating a Purple Star program.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Families, Seniors, and Veterans Committee for consideration.