Maryland Board of Education to repeal zero tolerance
By: HooverLaw Staff
Following a recent trend of “relaxing” Zero Tolerance policies, the State of Maryland Board of Education is moving towards adopting a new set of disciplinary regulations. The regulations will closely follow proposals made by a work group of Maryland educators, legislators and lawyers.
The changes in policy would allow the state’s 24 school districts more lenience when dealing with cases of disciplinary infractions that would have in the past resulted in long term out-of-school suspensions and expulsions.
Following studies on the School-to-Prison pipeline, such as this one commissioned by Maryland’s Board which exposed disparities in disciplinary action taken against minority students and students in lower socio-economic brackets in comparison with their peers. African American and Hispanic Students, students who come from lower income families and students with disabilities have been shown to be between two and ten times more likely to be suspended than their fellow students.
The proposed regulations protect the rights of suspended students, by limiting their suspensions to between one and three days as well as shifting the focus of disciplinary policies to a more rehabilitative approach. Students will be guaranteed ample time and resources during their suspensions to complete homework assignments.
It has been shown in several comprehensive studies that a significant interruption to the education of a young person – a very common situation in school districts that have zero tolerance disciplinary policies – positively correlates to higher rates of juvenile confinement and ultimately a life spent behind bars.
At HooverLaw, with over three decades of experience in Education, Juvenile and Criminal Law we firmly believe that every child has the right to an uninterrupted, quality education. This is a step in the right direction for the Maryland State Board of Education, and we can only hope that other school boards will follow their lead and eliminate these archaic and draconian discipline policies.