Black students have long been suspended and expelled from schools at much higher rates than their white counterparts–but one forer Minneapolis superintendent has decided to take matters into her own hands.
Bernadeia Johnson, who is black, has declared that no black students can be suspended in her district–without her explicit sign-off.
Principals, who had previously been the final arbitrator of discipline, will now have to kick the can up to the main office on all suspensions, and wait for their boss to sign off on them.
Johnson has also put guidelines in place earlier this year, which will ban suspensions altogether for children in first grade or below.
The new approach aims to reduce the number of black students that are being suspended–in Johnson’s mind, unfairly.
Roughly 20% of black boys nationwide are suspended at some point between kindergarten and twelfth grade, and 12% of black girls are. That dwarfs the number of white students who are suspended during their academic career–between just 1 and 2%.
But adding another layer of bureaucracy–and putting the decision rights in the hands of a superintendent who actively wants fewer black students suspended–might have an unintended consequence of tying the hands of teachers and school staff when it comes to discipline.
Nevertheless, Johnson’s new plan is being heralded on the Left for its stance in favor of racial fairness. But, while it’ll likely remove any lingering racial bias from the proceedings if there are any, it’s unclear whether or not it’ll actually address the behavioral causes of why black students are suspended at such high rates.