Even as a consensus grows nationwide that out-of-school suspensions bear a lifetime of effects and should be used for only the most serious offenses, Rhode Island’s students are routinely suspended from school for small infractions that pose no risk of harm serious distraction to their peers. Following the release of an ACLU report demonstrating the tremendous overuse of suspensions in Rhode Island’s schools and the disproportionate impact on minority students, the General Assembly again weighed legislation to limit the use of out-of-school suspensions and address the pervasive racial disparities in discipline rates. The legislation required that suspensions be served in-school unless a student poses a physical risk or serious distraction to the students, and requiring school districts examine their discipline data and come up with plans to mitigate any disproportionate suspension rates that may exist. Neither bill received a committee vote.
School Discipline (H 7581, S 2430)
Representative Teresa Tanzi and Senator Juan Pichardo