In response to some criticism regarding the way Minneapolis public schools handle the suspension and discipline of minority students, officials have announced new changes to their policy that include requiring approval from the superintendent’s office before suspensions can be issued.
Officials say that motivation for the changes came after data showed that black students are ten times more likely to be sent home than white students. Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson says that the data prompted her to do whatever it took to “disrupt” the trend.
“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.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune says that the school district had been making attempts to reduce the amount of minority suspensions in schools, including a moratorium on suspensions amongst younger elementary school students earlier this year. While the moratorium reduced the number of suspensions by half, Johnson says that she is determined to completely diminish the still-significant race gap.
“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.”
In addition to the new policy suspension policy, the school district is also working with the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership to evaluate and improve upon its standards for student behavior and how it handles minority student discipline. The district will now be reporting all progress in their effort to improve their suspension policy to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. The district will also be evaluating its school resource officer program and reduce the number of officers on staff, including eliminating all part-time officer positions next year.
Some are saying that this is still not enough.
“In the long term, that is not the solution” says Minnesota Minority Education Partnership member Marika Pfefferkorn. “The way to stop disproportionately is to do a moratorium.”
Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune / Photo Credit: WikiCommons