When the city announced changes to the school discipline code that would effectively eliminate suspensions for students in kindergarten through second grade, many advocates praised the decision.
But in language presented at a hearing Monday, officials suggested that in cases involving guns or other forms of “substantial” disruption, the city’s youngest students could still be suspended. Some advocates objected to the caveats, arguing that the city was backing away from its earlier promise.
So what’s the process for hammering out the final language? And when will the new discipline code take effect?
While there are no additional hearings scheduled, members of the public can still weigh in by emailing the education department their comments through August 22. In the weeks following, an education department spokesperson said, the city will review the public comments and work with teachers, parents and other community members before releasing a final version of the new policy.
The new discipline code will take effect this school year, and will likely be implemented sometime this fall, the spokesperson said.
It’s unclear whether the discipline code will include an outright suspension ban, especially given pushback from groups including the city’s principal and teacher unions. The city has also said that the language released Monday is in accordance with state law. (A spokesperson would not comment on whether the city believed some exceptions to the suspension ban are required by law.)
Revising the code is “part of an ongoing process that includes continued conversations with parents, students, partners, school staff and community members as we finalize the changes,” education department spokesperson Toya Holness wrote in an email to Chalkbeat. “We remain committed to ending suspensions for students in kindergarten through second grade and putting more age-appropriate discipline practices in place.”