Maryland dials down on its zero tolerance policy
The Maryland school board passed new disciplinary regulations that will end its zero-tolerance policy.
The regulations come after four years of deliberations, and provide hope for a large number of boys, special education students and African Americans who are sent home or jailed for minor infractions.
Education experts said they believe Maryland is among the first states to take the step toward a less-punitive disciplinary code that will require administrators to use suspensions as a last resort. Students who are violent or bring weapons to school will still receive swift and tough punishment.
While the new regulations have support among advocates and some administrators, they have drawn criticism across the state for taking disciplinary decisions out of the hands of local officials. State officials received more than a thousand letters from opponents of the plan, somewhat less than those in support.
The new regulations will give school officials, particularly principals, more discretion when disciplining students. School districts across the state must inform the state board of their updates policies to reduce the number of long-term suspensions by next fall.
Late last year, a south Florida school district implemented a new zero tolerance policy to curb the school-to-prison pipeline. The zero tolerance policies are believed to contribute greatly to black male teen incarceration.
What other actions can school officials take to curb the school-to-prison pipeline?
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