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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – After a unanimous vote by the school board, changes will now be made to a Dallas Independent School District policy that allowed suspension for students as young as 4-years-old.
Before the meeting started supporters of the policy change gathered outside holding signs and chanting, “Solutions, not suspensions!”
More than 40 parents and teachers took the floor in a heated debate at Thursday night’s board meeting. Many pushed for the changes, saying the policy needed a complete overhaul.
One woman said, “Sending these students home does not address their behavior or give them the tools they need and the opportunity to grow.”
Those opposed to the policy said it wasn’t constructive and led to more harm than good. Some at the meeting also expressed concerns about the rules disproportionately affecting minority students and youngsters with disabilities.
In a statement issued Friday, DISD officials said the policy affects students in pre-K to 2nd grade who commit Level 1 offenses — which are the lowest-level infractions.
Teachers told the board about the fallout they’ve seen from children, academically and socially, who have been repeatedly suspended.
Allison Brim, the organizing director for the Texas Organizing Project, attended the meeting and said, “We’re talking about kids who are four years old, six years old… its just being used way too much and it’s not effective at correcting behaviors. So it’s harmful and it’s also not working.”
A discipline task force recommended that Dallas ISD elementary schools develop behavior management plans and limit suspension of pre-K through 2nd grade students to only the most severe cases.
The change does not mean the elimination of suspensions for the aforementioned students. The DISD statement also said:
“Under the policy change, students in pre-K to 2nd grade could still be suspended for Level 2 and Level 3 offenses, which are the more serious infractions such as bullying and fighting.”
The policy change doesn’t go into effect until the beginning of next school year.