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Wake County to consider changes aimed at reducing school suspensions

North Carolina’s largest public school system is set to consider policy changes aimed at reducing school suspensions, The News & Observer reported Tuesday.

The policy revisions come as school leaders across the state consider ways to drop their school suspensions. Wake, in recent years, has been a target of advocates who say the school district’s policies disproportionately impact black students. 

From The N&O:

The school board is scheduled to give final approval to a series of changes in the Code of Student Conduct that include revising how suspensions are issued for the lowest level of offenses. The changes comes as Wake, which has reduced the number of suspensions by 19 percent since 2011, has encouraged schools to look for more alternatives to out-of-school suspensions.

One change drops the words “generally” in the phrase that Level I violations “should generally result in in-school interventions rather than out-of-school suspensions.” Examples of Level I violations include non-compliance and disrespect to school employees, inappropriate dress and inappropriate language.

The new wording also clarifies that out-of-school suspensions up up to two days can be given for Level I offenses if during a school year there have been at least two interventions and there’s “persistent pattern” of violations.

Currently, board policy says that suspensions can be given if there have been at least 3 Level I infractions in the same semester. But schools have interpreted it differently with some saying the same infraction and others saying any three Level I offenses.

Some other changes include:

Telling principals that they should consider that suspensions have a disproportionate impact on students on a block schedule;

Updating the wording on prohibited electronic devices to drop references to antiquated devices such as beepers and CD players;

Beginning the policy with a section about the role students, parents and community partners play in promoting positive school climates.

The new policies also come with school district leaders mulling changes to their school resource officer (SRO) contracts with local police agencies. Critics have long been urging reforms in schools’ growing use of SROs, although the calls intensified after a January video of a Wake SRO body-slamming a teenager girl went viral. 

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