Seattle schools ban elementary school suspensions after evidence of racial bias

'This is a step forward for all of us'

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The Seattle School Board voted on Wednesday to ban suspending elementary school kids as punishment.

Board member Betty Patu told the Seattle Times that the unanimous vote was a step forward for the school district.

“This is a step forward for all of us. These are our kids, and we need to do whatever we can to make sure they stay in school. I’m really excited we are actually making this a reality.”

The decision was based on studies which show African-American, Latino, Native American and Pacific Islander students suspended at double, and sometimes triple the rates of their white and Asian-American classmates when punished for low-level offenses, the Seattle Times reports.

Board member Harium Martin-Morris sponsored the one-year moratorium and told the outlet that suspensions shouldn't be used for children who are non-violent. He said that the measure was based on research that shows minority students who are suspended at a young age, are likely to experience disciplinary problems in the future.

Several schools across the country have begun eliminating out-of-school suspensions. NPR's State Impact reports that Miami-Dade schools have created measures to find alternatives to sending children home and have invested money into a mental health clinic. California has also signed a bill to ban suspensions for minor offenses, the Sacramento Bee reports.