L.A. Unified School District Votes to Ban Suspensions for “Willful Defiance”
The Los Angeles Unified School board voted Tuesday to ban suspensions for “willful defiance.”
The board has directed school officials to use other disciplinary methods that don’t force students to miss valuable class time over fairly minor infractions. These suspensions disproportionately impact students of color.
Opponents of suspensions for “willful defiance” say such policies are highly subjective; students can be suspended for not turning off a cell phone, talking back, or a dress code violation.
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.
Additionally, African Americans are disproportionately affected — accounting for 26% of those suspended in L.A. Unified in 2010-11 although they made up 9% of the student population.
Disruptive students could still be removed from the classroom but they would no longer be sent home. Instead, school officials would be required to keep students on campus and hold them accountable through alternatives shown to be more effective.
Do you agree with this decision? Should other districts follow suit?
What are something alternative disciplinary methods that won’t pull students away from valuable class time?
Sound off below!