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The Maryland State Board of Education voted to eliminate zero tolerance policies and take a more rehabilitative approach to discipline.
"The idea is to keep students in school by making suspensions and expulsions a last resort," says Dr. Charlene Dukes, President of the board. "We know that no student comes to school perfect. They're not academically perfect and they're not behaviorally perfect. And we don't throw away the imperfect or difficult students."
The decision also requires school systems to track disparities in discipline when it comes to racial minorities and special education students.
"When we look at the data, African American students and particularly special education students appear to be disproportionally impacted when it comes to suspensions and expulsions in schools. And we need to understand why that occurs."
Schools reporting disproportionate disciplinary action must develop a plan to reduce the disparity within a year and eliminate it within three.
A final vote on the policy is set for next month.