The school law of Michigan/Miscellaneous Provisions

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Introduction of the Kindergarten.

In addition to the duties imposed by law upon district boards in this state, they are also empowered to provide suitable rooms or apartments for kindergarten work, and to supply their districts with the necessary apparatus and appliances for the instruction of children in what is known as the kindergarten method.

COMPETENT TEACHERS. In the employment of teachers it is competent for district boards to require qualifications for instruction of children in kindergarten methods. They may provide by contract with teachers for such instruction, specifying the hours and times therefor under such rules as the district board may prescribe.

WHO ARE ENTITLED TO ITS PRIVILEGES. All children residing within the district between the ages of four and seven are entitled to instruction in the kindergarten department. This act is applicable to every public school organized by special act or by charter (Act 119, 1891).

Necessary Appendages.

AUTHORITY OF DIRECTOR. The director of the district is authorized by law to provide necessary appendages for the school house and to keep the same in good condition and repair during the time of school (5073). In this duty the director is independent of the vote of the district meeting, yet there has been much controversy as to where the authority of the director ends, or what he may purchase without the consent of the district.


To settle this question so far as a few of the more needful pieces of apparatus are concerned, the legislature of 1895 made an amendment to the section above referred to. It reads as follows: Necessary appendages within the meaning of the law, shall consist of the following articles, to wit: a set of wall maps (the grand divisions, the United States, and Michigan) not exceeding twelve dollars in price; a globe not exceeding eight dollars; a dictionary not exceeding ten dollars (Act 258, 1895); a reading chart[1] not exceeding five dollars, and a case for library books not exceeding ten dollars; also looking-glass, comb, towel, water-pail, cup, ash-pail, poker, stove, shovel, broom, dustpan, duster, wash-basin, and soap (Act 15, 1895). It must not be supposed that only the articles mentioned in the law of 1895 should be considered as necessary apparatus such as the director has the right to purchase. Numerous decisions have been filed which show that directors have power to provide other useful appliances without obtaining authority from the district meeting.

* The word “appendage” as used in our school statutes, does not mean simply the school apparatus used inside the building, nor is it limited to such articles as brooms, pails, cups, etc.; but it must be construed in a broader sense, to include fuel, fences, and necessary out-houses (62 Mich., 101). Desks are necessary appliances (48 Mich., 404; Attorney General, July 31, 1877).

United States Flag.

While a flag for a school house may be considered as a “necessary appendage” within the meaning of the school law we give under separate heading, the whole of Act No. 56 of the Laws of 1895, the passage of which was advocated by the members of the Grand Army of the Republic of the state:

An act to provide for the purchase and display of United States flags in connection with the public school buildings within this state:

Section 1. The People of the State of Michigan enact, That the board of education or the board of school trustees in the several cities, townships, villages, and school districts of this state shall purchase a United States flag, of a size not less than four feet two inches by eight feet, and made of good flag bunt- ing “A,” flag staff, and the necessary appliances therefor, and shall display said flag upon or near the public school building during school hours, and at such other times as to the said boards may seem proper; and that the necessary funds to defray the expenses to be incurred herein shall be assessed and collected in the same manner as moneys for public school purposes are assessed and collected by law.

School Census.

WHEN TAKEN. The school age in Michigan is from five to twenty years and the age of compulsory education from eight to fourteen, except in cities under police regulation where the compulsory age is from seven to sixteen. It is the duty of the director or such other person as the board may appoint, to take a census of the district during the ten days just previous to the first Monday of September in each year (5074). This is one of the important duties of school officers, and it is essential that the census be taken in districts of the state at the same time (5046). From the census reports of September, is made the distribution of primary school moneys in May and November of the next year.

THOSE EXCLUDED. Children in almshouses, prisons, or asylums, are not included in the census; nor are Indian children, unless their parents are liable to pay taxes in the district.

MUST BE VERIFIED The correctness of the census must be verified by the oath or affirmation of the person taking the same, and a copy sent to the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Penalties and Forfeitures.

The law is very explicit in stating the powers and duties of all individuals connected with our school affairs, and is equally explicit in regard to the treatment of any one who seems regardless of the welfare of our schools. Below is a list of the various penalties and forfeitures.[2]


REFUSAL TO WITHDRAW. If at a district meeting any person shall conduct himself in a disorderly manner and, after notice from the person presiding, shall persist therein, the chairman may order him to withdraw and, if he refuses, may order any constable or other person, to take him into custody until the meeting adjourns; and any person who refuses to withdraw on being so ordered, and also any person who wilfully disturbs such meeting by rude and indecent behavior, or by profane or indecent discourse or any other disturbance, shall, on conviction thereof, be punished by a fine not less than two nor more than fifty dollars, or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding thirty days. Any justice of the peace, recorder, or police justice of the township, ward, or city where such offense shall be committed, shall have jurisdiction to try and determine the same (5051).


Any person who disturbs school by rude and indecent behavior, or by profane or indecent discourse or any other disturbance, shall, on conviction thereof, be punished by a fine not less than two nor more than fifty dollars, or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding thirty days (5069).


TAXABLE INHABITANT. Any taxable inhabitant of a newly formed district receiving the notice of the first meeting, who neglects or refuses to serve and return such notice, and every chairman of the first district meeting, who wilfully neglects or refuses to perform the duties enjoined on him, shall respectively forfeit the sum of five dollars (5163).

DISTRICT OFFICER. Any person duly elected to the office of moderator, director, assessor, or trustee of a school district, who neglects or refuses without sufficient cause to accept and serve, or who, having entered upon the duties of his office, neglects or refuses to perform any duty required of him by virtue of his office, shall forfeit the sum of ten dollars (5164).

INSPECTOR. Any person duly elected or appointed a school inspector, who neglects or refuses without sufficient cause to qualify and serve, or who, having entered upon the duties of his office, neglects or refuses to perform any duty required of him by virtue of his office, shall forfeit the sum of ten dollars (5165).

BOARD OF INSPECTORS. If any board of school inspectors neglect or refuse to make and deliver to the township clerk the annual report, within the limited time, they shall be liable to pay the full amount of money lost by their failure, with interest thereon, to be recovered by the township treasurer in the name of the township; and if any township clerk neglects or refuses to transmit the report herein mentioned within the limited time, he shall be liable to pay the full amount lost by such neglect or refusal, with interest thereon (5166).

Any county clerk who neglects or refuses to transmit to the COUNTY CLERK. Superintendent of Public Instruction the required reports, within the limited time, shall be liable to pay to each township the full amount which such township or school district shall lose by such neglect or refusal, with interest thereon (5167).

TOWNSHIP CLERK AND SUPERVISOR. Any township clerk who neglects or refuses to certify to the supervisor any school district taxes that have been reported to him, and any supervisor wilfully neglecting to assess any such tax, shall be liable to any district for any damage occasioned thereby, to be recovered by the assessor in the name of the district (5169).

SCHOOL OFFICERS AND TEACHERS. No school officer, superintendent, or teacher shall act as agent for any author, publisher, or seller of school books, or shall directly or indirectly receive any gift or reward for his influence in recommending the purchase or use of any library or school apparatus or furniture; nor shall any school officer be personally interested in any way whatever in any contract with the district in which he may hold office. Any act or neglect herein prohibited, performed by any such officer, superintendent, or teacher, shall be deemed a misdemeanor (5170).

Safe Keeping of Public Moneys.

WHAT ARE PUBLIC MONEYS. All moneys which come into the hands of any school officer, pursuant to any provision of law authorizing such officer to receive the same, are denominated public moneys.

HOW KEPT. It is the duty of every officer charged with the receiving keeping, or disbursing of public moneys, to keep the same separate and apart from his own money, and not to commingle the same with his own money nor with any other money.

No such officer shall, under any pretext, use or allow to be used, any such moneys for any purpose other than in accordance with the provisions of law; nor shall he use the same for his own private use, nor loan the same without legal authority.

INTEREST ACCRUING. In all cases where public moneys are authorized to be deposited in any bank or to be loaned for interest, the interest accruing belongs to and constitutes a general fund.

DEPOSIT OF PUBLIC MONEYS. In no case shall any such officer, directly or indirectly, receive any pecuniary or valuable consideration as an inducement for the deposit of any public moneys with any particular bank, person, firm, or corporation.

PENALTY FOR VIOLATION. These provisions apply to all deputies, clerks, agents and servants of such officers, and any person guilty of a violation of this law shall, on conviction thereof, be punished by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars or imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or both such fine and imprisonment in the discretion of the court: Provided, That nothing in this act contained shall prevent a prosecution under the general statute for embezzlement, in cases where the facts warrant a prosecution under such general statute.

MONEY ORDERS. Any officer who wilfully or corruptly draws or issues any warrant, order, or certificate for the payment of money in excess of the amount authorized by law, or for a purpose not authorized by law, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and may be punished as stated above.

Indebtedness and Expenses.

By wise provisions of law the expenses of districts for purchasing properly, building houses, and maintaining schools is carefully restricted so that districts may not become unduly burdened.


Any school district may, by a two-thirds vote of the qualified electors present at any annual meeting or a special meeting called for that purpose, borrow money, and may issue bonds of the district to pay for a school-house site or sites, and to erect and furnish school buildings.

AMOUNT. Districts having less than thirty children may have an indebtedness not to exceed three hundred dollars; districts having thirty children, five hundred dollars; districts having fifty children, one thousand dollars; districts having seventy-five children, two thousand dollars (Act 4, 1893); districts having one hundred children, three thousand dollars; districts having one hundred and twenty-five children and an assessed valuation of not less than one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, five thousand dollars; districts having two hundred children, eight thousand dollars; districts having three hundred children, fifteen thousand dollars; districts having four hundred children, twenty thousand dollars; districts having five hundred children, twenty-five thousand dollars; and districts having eight hundred children or more, thirty thousand dollars.

TIME LIMIT. All children mentioned in this section must be of legal school age, and the indebtedness of a district shall in no case extend beyond ten years for money borrowed.

VOTE BY BALLOT. In all proceedings under this section, the director, assessor, and one person appointed by the district board constitutes a board of inspection, who shall cause a poll-list to be kept and a suitable ballot-box to be used, which shall be kept open two hours. The vote must be by ballot and canvassed in the same manner as votes at township elections (5103).


One of the powers of the district meeting is the voting of AMOUNT FOR PURCHASING OR BUILDING. taxes for the building of school houses and the running expenses of school. The amount of taxes raised in any district for the purpose of purchasing or building a school house or houses in the same year that any bonded indebtedness is incurred, shall not exceed in districts containing less than ten children of school age, two hundred and fifty dollars; in districts having between ten and thirty children, five hundred dollars; and in districts having between thirty and fifty children, one thousand dollars. No legal subdivision of land shall be taxed for building a school house, unless some portion thereof shall be within two and one-half miles of the school house site (5052).

FOR GENERAL SCHOOL PURPOSES. The tax authorized to be raised for general school expenses, must not exceed one-half the amount authorized to be raised for building. In the estimates made by district boards of districts having less than thirty pupils, such estimate, including the district’s share of the primary school interest fund and one-mill tax, shall not exceed the sum of fifty dollars a month for the period during which school is held in such district. In township districts the amount voted for purchasing school lots and for erecting school houses, shall not be greater than three mills on the dollar of all the taxable valuation of the real and personal property in said township (Act 176, 1891).

Suits and Judgments Against Districts.

JURISDICTION. Justices of the peace have jurisdiction in cases against school districts, when the amount claimed or matter in controversy does not exceed one hundred dollars (5107).

HOW COMMENCED. When any suit is brought against a school district, it must be commenced by summons, a copy of which shall be left with the assessor of the district at least eight days before the return day (5108).

NO EXECUTION. No execution shall issue on any judgment against a school district, nor shall any suit be brought thereon; but the same shall be collected in the manner prescribed in this act (5109).

FINAL JUDGMENT. Whenever any final judgment shall be obtained against a school district, the assessor of the district shall certify to the supervisor of the township and to the director of the district, the date and amount of such judgment, with the name of the person in whose favor the same was rendered (5110).

FAILURE TO CERTIFY JUDGMENT. If the assessor fails to certify the judgment, it is lawful for the party obtaining the same to file with the supervisor the certificate of the justice or clerk of court, rendering the judgment showing the facts which should have been certified by the assessor (5111).

ASSESSMENT OF AMOUNT. The supervisor receiving either of the certificates of a judgment, shall proceed to assess upon the taxable property of the district, the amount with interest from the date of the judgment to the time when the warrant for the collection will expire, placing the same on the next township assessment roll in the column for school taxes; and the same proceedings shall be had, and the same shall be collected and returned, in the same manner as other district taxes (5112).

School House Sites.

LOCATION OF SITE. The qualified voters of any school district, when lawfully assembled, may designate by a vote of two-thirds of those present such number of sites as may be desired for school-houses, and may change the same by a similar vote at any annual meeting. When no site can be established by such inhabitants, the school inspectors of the township or townships in which the district is situated determine where such site shall be; and their determination shall be certified to the director of the district and shall be final, subject to alteration afterward by the inspectors, on the written request of two-thirds of the qualified voters of the district, or by two-thirds of the qualified voters agreeing upon a site, at a district meeting lawfully called (5118).

AMOUNT TO BE PAID. Whenever a site for a school house shall be designated, determined, or established in any manner provided by law, and such district shall be unable to agree with the owner or owners upon the compensation to be paid, or in case such district shall, by reason of any imperfection in the title to said site, arising either from break in the chain of title, tax sale, mortgages, levies, or any other cause, be unable to procure a perfect, unincumbered title, the district board of such district shall authorize one or more of its members to apply to the circuit judge, circuit court commissioner, or any justice of the peace of the city or township in which such school district is situated, for a jury to ascertain and determine the just compensation to be made for the real estate required by such school district for such site. The application must be in writing, state the necessity for using the same for school purposes, and describe the real estate in question (5115).

Suspension of Pupils.

POWER VESTED IN BOARD. District boards have authority to make and enforce suitable rules for the government and management of schools and the care of district property. Just what shall be considered suitable rules, must necessarily be left to the discretion of the board. Said board may authorize or order the suspension or expulsion from the school, whenever in its judgment the interests of the school demand it, of any pupil guilty of gross misdemeanor or persistent disobedience (5069).

POWER MAY BE DELEGATED TO TEACHER. It will be observed that the power to suspend pupils, if possessed by the teacher, must be delegated to him by the board. It sometimes occurs that teachers feel obliged to suspend a pupil before the board can be advised with. Such suspension should be for the day only (45 Wis., 150; 32 Vt., 224; 48 Cal., 36; 133 Mass., 103). Some courts have held that, in extraordinary cases, a teacher may expel a pupil in order to maintain proper control; and that, in case the board reinstates the pupil who becomes a menace to the proper discipline of the school, the teacher may quit the school and maintain an action for the amount of his wages (46 Vt., 452; 27 Vt., 755). Generally, the power to suspend rests with the board alone.

RULES MUST BE REASONABLE. The rules of the board should not be unjust and require more than can legally be enforced. Suspension should be a last resort. A pupil cannot be expelled or suspended for a careless act, no matter how negligent, if it is not wilful or malicious (77 Mich., 605).

Method of Voting.

The method of voting at district meetings, as well as the majority required, depends upon the question under discussion. Though referred to in Chapter IV, we herewith append a summary as follows:


This is necessary in the following cases:

1. To elect all school officers (5053, 5132).
2. To bond the district (5103).


At district meetings this is requisite as follows:

1. To authorize the district board to use money for any other purpose than that for which it was raised (5063).
2. To raise money by issuing bonds (5103).
3. To designate sites for school houses (5114).
4. To request inspectors to alter location of school site (5114).
5. To organize as a graded school district (5138).
6. To unite two districts into one graded district (5135).
7. To change from graded district to primary district (Act 84, 1891).
8. To establish a district library (Act 158, 1893).

Course of Study.

STUDIES NOT SPECIFIED BY LAW. The arrangement of a course of study for the schools of the district is within the jurisdiction of the school board. The law is not very explicit as to what studies shall be included in established courses. Act No. 147 of the Laws of 1889, and Act No. 147 of the Laws of 1891, contain a mention of certain branches of study; and the law for the establishment of graded schools provides for high schools: but district boards must decide what branches shall be pursued in the schools of their districts. Having fixed a course of study, the board may require teachers and pupils to follow the same within reasonable limits. Music may be MUSIC MAY BE INCLUDED. included in the adopted course of study of a public school, and necessary apparatus for teaching music may be purchased without a vote of the district (67 Mich. 262). Sectarian instruction is abolished from READING OF BIBLE. all public schools (5063); and, while the reading of the bible may properly become a part of the daily program of the public school, the comment thereon by the teacher should be of such a character that pupils and parents of all religious faiths may not detect the slightest traces of sectarian prejudice. (35 Wis. 59; 79 Ill. 567; 87 Ill. 303; 38 Me. 379; 95 Ill. 263; 23 Ohio, 211).

  1. Note.—For decisions relative to the purchase of charts by the director see 36 Mich., 404 and 94 Mich., 262.
  2. Note.—For penalty on parents or guardians, see Chapter VII. on compulsory attendance.
  3. Note.—A measure requiring a two-thirds vote of a district meeting cannot after adoption be rescinded by a mere majority vote (10 N. W. 349. See 47 Mich. 326.)