Limiting suspensions from school: Kansas City Public School District takes new approach to discipline

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Public School District is taking a new approach to education and student learning. The school board approved a new Student Code of Conduct Wednesday night.

The biggest change will impact students in Pre-K through 5th grade who will no longer face out-of-school suspension, unless they physically harm themselves or someone else.

Other changes include adding a learner Bill of Rights.

The dress code section was updated to include that students will not be discriminated against based on gender expression through they way they dress. A hat and hoodie ban was also removed. The code says students will not be given an out-of-school suspension because of dress code violations.

Any student that is suspended will have a reintegration meeting that includes a plan on how the student can return to the classroom.

The district said it took a year to revise its code. Teachers, counselors, trauma sensitive clinicians, parents and students were all included in the process, according to the district. The new code of conduct will be implemented for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year.

The changes comes following a 2017 report by the Kansas City Health Department that found while Black kids make up around 40 percent of local elementary classrooms, they account for nearly three-fourths of all students who get into trouble. The study also found the things they get disciplined for are less likely to be violent offenses, rather they’re more minor and more subjective problems like classroom disruption. A report by the ACLU in 2020 found the same trend across the country.

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