In ground-breaking action, the Los Angeles Unified school board voted Tuesday to ban suspensions of defiant students, directing officials to use alternative disciplinary practices instead, reports the Los Angeles Times. The action comes amid mounting national concern that removing students from school is imperiling their academic achievement and disproportionately harming minority students, particularly African Americans.
The action marks a decisive step back from “zero tolerance” policies that swept the nation after the Columbine school shooting in Colorado more than a decade ago. But as harsh school discipline policies took hold, studies in Texas and elsewhere found that suspensions did not lead to better behavior but were linked to poor academic achievement and run-ins with law enforcement. African Americans are disproportionately affected — accounting for 26 percent of those suspended in L.A. Unified in 2010-11 although they made up 9 percent of the student population.