North Carolina District Takes Steps to End Zero Tolerance

Last Updated: August 26, 2010

This article appeared in the August 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

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The Wake County (Raleigh) School District in North Carolina has decided to amend its discipline policies that automatically remove students from school for lengthy terms in favor of alternative discipline strategies aimed at keeping students in school.

The length of a long-term suspension for students, which has typically been the remainder of the school year with no exceptions, will become flexible and principals will have discretion over how long the suspensions should last. The move is important, in part, because Wake County policy had previously required automatic long-term suspension for more offenses than state law required. It is expected that the county will end long-terms suspensions for all offenses other than the four offenses for which long-term suspension is mandated by state law.

In addition, the Board has also agreed to consider recommendations of a group of educators who have been meeting for about six months to develop solutions to the problem of student exclusion. The educators’ initial action plan includes recommending that 80% of Wake County Schools implement Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, a discipline approach proven effective in reducing school disciplinary problems, and that the district replicate the practices of school systems with low discipline rates for African-American males.

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