Every year, public school districts in Michigan request classroom supplies from parents. But few seem to know that these items are not mandatory — state law requires them to be provided by districts.

Some parents in the Standish Sterling School District received a flier from three fifth-grade teachers listing a half dozen “necessary items” their children would need and another five “optional items.”

In Michigan by law, the school district is responsible for supplying students with necessary supplies. The state Supreme Court ruled that this includes basic school supplies.

Standish-Sterling Superintendent Darren Kroczaleski said he checked into it and the list was sent out by the teachers because they receive requests from parents and organizations looking to donate supplies and want to know what is needed.

“It was more of a FYI, ‘if they are going to purchase it …’ ” Kroczaleski said.

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Krocaleski said he wasn’t aware of any letter sent out with the flier explaining that it wasn’t mandatory for parents to purchase the “necessary” items on the list.

Audrey Spalding, education policy director for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said it’s not uncommon for school districts to send out ambiguous communications about purchasing school supplies.

“Parents should know they are not required to purchase their children’s school supplies,” Spalding said. “The law requires schools to provide school supplies.”

MLive reported this week that a national retail survey found that all-new school supplies can cost between $161 and $330 for students, depending on grade level.

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See also:

Can School Districts Require Parents To Buy Necessary School Supplies?

Back-to-School Shopping

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Nonpublic schools serve tens of thousands of Michigan elementary and secondary students, yet a clear understanding of the state's diverse private education landscape has been lacking.

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