Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Maryland education board gives preliminary approval to student-discipline reforms

BALTIMORE — The State Board of Education overwhelmingly approved regulations Tuesday intended to cut back on suspensions, keep students in class and create a less-punitive culture in public schools.
The changes place Maryland among states and school systems at the forefront of a national movement to rethink how students in trouble are punished and whether too many are suspended and expelled for offenses that could be handled in other ways.
But the Maryland action goes further than most initiatives, requiring that the state’s 24 school systems track data to ensure that minority and special education students are not unduly affected by suspensions, expulsions and other disciplinary measures. Disparities would have to be reduced within a year and eliminated within three years.
“It could well be the largest governmental unit that has made this strong a commitment to addressing racial disparities in discipline,” said Russell Skiba, a professor at Indiana University who does research on race and discipline. He called the action “a tremendous step forward.”
The new regulations require local school boards to adopt a rehabilitative philosophy toward discipline and teach students positive behavior. Zero-tolerance policies with automatic consequences would be banned, and long-term suspensions and expulsions are referred to as a last resort.
Read more HERE.
Please note:  With Tuesday’s vote (July 24, 2012), the discipline regulations are considered “published” but require a state review and a 30-day period for additional public comment. The board will then vote on final adoption.

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