|Synopsis of Original Bill:
According to data provided by the Delaware Department of Education (“DOE”), thousands of Delaware students receive out-of-school suspensions each year for minor infractions, such as being unprepared or late for class, dress code violations, and disrespectful behavior. In 2013, only 2% of out-of-school suspensions were for serious offenses such as weapons, drugs, or serious violence. Out-of-school suspensions do not address the root causes for the misbehavior, and only serve to put the students further behind in class. Furthermore, DOE data shows that, in 2013, African-American students made up only 32% of the student body, but accounted for 62% of out-of-school suspension, and students with disabilities made up 13% of the student body, but accounted for 24% of out-of-school suspensions.
Delaware, like many states around the U.S., is part of a disturbing trend known as the “school to prison pipeline.” New federal discipline guidance, developed jointly by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, instruct schools to commit to regular evaluation of school discipline policies and practices, and monitor progress toward the schools’ climate and discipline goals. This process requires schools to first collect and publicly report disaggregated student discipline data, and solicit feedback from students, staff, families, and community representatives.
This Act furthers those goals by replacing out-of-school suspensions with more effective and restorative interventions, and require school districts and charter schools that suspend defined numbers of students or suspensions disparities to take meaningful corrective action by implementing restorative justice practices and smart discipline advisory committees. The schools in need of intervention are defined schools with high rates of suspension in the following categories:
(1) All students.
(2) Students belonging to 1 or more subgroups, such as students of specified racial subgroups or with disabilities.
(3) Schools with a significant disparity in suspension rates between racial subgroups or between students with disabilities and students without disabilities.
This Act also makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the guidelines of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.
Author: Senator Henry