ANN ARBOR — State Rep. Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) hosted a town hall last night on “How to Create a School to Success Continuum: Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline,” where he moderated a panel of community experts who discussed many policies and practices that impact young people, and ways to prevent them from entering the criminal justice system. The town hall attracted more than 120 people, reaching the capacity of the room in which it was held at Washtenaw Community College.

“It was inspiring to see so many community members come out last night to discuss how to keep our young people on a path for success,” Zemke said. “I really appreciate the discussion and am grateful to our panel and audience for their informative suggestions on how to create learning environments that foster success in and out of school.”

Zemke was joined by a panel of experts including Scott Menzel, superintendent of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District; Derrick Jackson, director of community engagement in the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office; Tod Durkin, a parent with the Student Advocacy Center of Michigan; Peri Stone-Palmquist, executive director of the Student Advocacy Center of Michigan; and Joseph Ryan, associated professor of social work and co-director of the Child and Adolescent Data Lab at the University of Michigan.

Topics discussed at last night’s town hall include how youth can get involved in interrupting the school-to-prison pipeline, the state’s zero-tolerance policy around suspensions and expulsions, literacy access and building positive relationships between community and law enforcement. Due to the enthusiastic response and participation from members of the community, Zemke will be hosting additional town halls on this topic in the future aimed at identifying meaningful grassroots solutions to keeping youth out of prison. 

“This is a topic that impacts us all, as members of the same community who must depend on one another for our collective success,” Zemke said. “I look forward to continuing these productive conversations in the future, and hope that together we can craft policy and practice solutions that will effect real change for not only Washtenaw County, but the rest of the state.”