Michigan School Districts’ Legal Authority and Responsibility to Protect Students from COVID-19
February 21, 2022
In Michigan, school districts and local health departments have separate and distinct, though overlapping, legal authority to protect students within their jurisdiction. There are separate laws, practical considerations, and liability risks that affect each entity and their decisions about whether, when, and how to take protective actions. A decidedly unhelpful strategy is to wait for another entity to act, since the existence of overlapping legal authority does not legally protect an entity that fails to act. As we saw during the Flint water crisis, deference that leads to inaction can tragically compromise the public’s health and trust and can lead to liability for entities and officials who fail to exercise their legal authority.