Suspending children of color will be reviewed by school superintendents, in an effort to curtail the overwhelming likelihood that minority students will face suspension as a disciplinary technique. In Minneapolis schools, the black students are ten times more likely to be sent home than the white students.
According to Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson, she wants to “disrupt that in any way that I can.”
“The only way I can think of doing that is to take those suspensions back to the individuals and try and probe and ask questions,” Johnson said Friday.
The district is approving a settlement with the U.S. Department of Education, after being investigated over inconsistent suspensions of black students. The results showed that school officials suspend students of color for behaviors that do not lead to white students being suspended. The new policy will be implemented as part of that settlement in an effort to reduce the gap and make certain the policies regarding discipline and suspension are fairly applied. .
Every suspension of black, Hispanic, or American Indian students that is proposed and does not involve violence will first be reviewed by Johnson or a member of her team.
In addition, the school district will reduce police presence at schools. Inconsistencies were found there as well, raising questions about how schools use police in discipline.
Earlier this year, a moratorium was placed by Johnson on the suspensions of pre-kindergarteners, kindergarteners, and first graders. She banned the suspensions after a news report showed a large jump in the numbers of younger students being suspended. The superintendent is committed to eliminating the racial gap in suspensions by 2018.
“Changing the trajectory for our students of color is a moral and ethical imperative, and our actions must be drastically different to achieve our goal of closing the achievement gap by 2020,” Johnson said.