Discipline Changes will Increase Equity in District

Elise Sommers, Editor-in-Chief

A revised behavior policy for the Minneapolis Public School District (MPS) will attempt to address racial disparity in suspension and expulsion rates. These changes were announced at a board meeting on December 10th.

“[The goal is to] maintain kids in class as much as possible. To keep them integrated into class,” stated South Administrative Intern Diane Bagley. The policy will decrease suspensions, and spend more time focusing on restorative justice, conversations with staff, and cultural competency training.

Behavior policies have long been an issue for MPS, and school districts around the nation. Statistics show that students of color and students who receive special ed are disciplined more than white students, and spend more time out of the classroom as a result. According to the MPS press release, annually one in five African American males are suspended, opposed to only one in 29 white males.

“It’s hard to say what it will mean for us [at South],” Bagley reflected. “I think we do very well supporting our kids with behavioral concerns.”

The new discipline system was developed using input from more than “1,000 students, families staff members in the past year,” according to the MPS press release. It accompanies the District-wide changes under the motto “the time now is to shift.”

Before the changes are instituted in August, 2014, all those involved in behavior management, including teachers, principals, and school staff, will receive trainings in cultural competency, fairness, and setting clear expectations.

Stated the MPS press release, “The proposed policy would create consistency across the system in how adults discipline students and eliminate the disproportionately negative impact our current practices have.”