The Seattle School Board vote on a resolution that would eliminate out-of-school suspensions for a year for elementary students has been moved to late September.
A Seattle School Board vote on whether to declare a moratorium on out-of-school suspensions for elementary students has been delayed to late September to give board and district staff members more time to examine the issue.
The resolution, sponsored by board member Harium Martin-Morris, would eliminate out-of-school suspensions for students in preschool through fifth grade for the upcoming school year. A vote originally was scheduled for Wednesday’s board meeting but has been moved to Sept. 23.
The resolution also includes a proposal to develop a districtwide system to significantly reduce suspensions for all grade levels.
In Seattle, students of color, as well as English-language learners and special-education students, are suspended at higher rates than their white peers, according to district data.
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In 2013, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights launched an investigation into Seattle schools’ treatment of black students, looking at whether it disciplines them more frequently and harshly than white students.
The majority of all suspended students fall within the “other behavior” category, which includes suspensions for nonviolent, nondrug-related and noncriminal reasons.
The resolution would still allow for suspensions even in elementary school when students are a health or safety threat to themselves or others.
The School Board plans to discuss suspension data and details of how the moratorium would be implemented at an upcoming retreat, board President Sherry Carr wrote in an email to community members.
Advocates say the moratorium would ensure that students don’t miss critical days of school, though some educators have said ending all suspensions would be challenging.
“It’s a complicated issue,” Seattle Public Schools spokeswoman Stacy Howard said. “It’s not just ‘Oh, let’s send them (the students) home.’ ”
All Seattle principals attended a two-day retreat in June focused on eliminating disproportionate rates in discipline and closing achievement gaps. After the retreat, an action plan was developed to accelerate achievement for students of color that principals are being asked to put into practice at each of their schools.
Other school districts have taken steps to address how to discipline students. Some schools, including those at Highline and Kent, have in-school suspensions so students can keep up with their classwork. Highline set a goal two years ago to eliminate all out-of-school suspensions.