St. Louis Public Schools will take a different approach to the discipline of its youngest students.
School officials announced a ban on out-of-school suspensions of preschool through second grade students. Instead, the misbehaving pupils will receive counseling, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
“We just think it’s the right thing to do. What we’re trying to do is not say that our kids are bad, but that our kids need support,” Superintendent Kelvin Adams told the Post-Dispatch.
The new policy, which goes into effect in the next school year, also calls for treatment instead of automatic suspension of any student with a drug infraction.
According to the newspaper, this new approach comes after a report revealed that Missouri leads the nation in suspending Black elementary school students. St. Louis Public Schools topped other cities within the state.
Richard Gaines, a member of the Special Administrative Board, explained to the Post-Dispatch that the move seeks to reduce the number of children entering the school-to-prison pipeline. He added: “We’re trying to keep more of them in [school] so we can work with them, so we can address issues with these children rather than sending them out.”
There’s a growing chorus of criticism against automatic out-of-school suspensions. The American Academy of Pediatrics has said zero tolerance policies often make matters worse. It recommends suspending students only on a case-by-case basis. The Academy points to research that demonstrates the harm it causes, including evidence that suspended students are 10 times more likely to become high school dropouts.
SOURCE: St. Louis Post-Dispatch | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty