HISD Board of Education approves policy calling for suspensions, expulsions to be measure of last resort

The Houston Independent School District Board of Education on Thursday approved the first reading of a proposal that calls for suspensions and expulsions to be considered a measure of last resort for elementary students.

Under the original proposal, campus administrators would not have been allowed to suspend or expel pre-kindergarten through second-grade students in response to behavioral or disciplinary issues — except as required by state law.The amended proposal approved Thursday night by trustees doesn’t ban suspensions and expulsions, but does dictate that they should only be used as a measure of last resort.

In coordination with the policy update, HISD would provide a teacher mentoring system and annual classroom management and equity training to all campus-based faculty and staff. The training would focus on creating a positive school climate, preventing crisis and deescalating disciplinary issues.

Additionally, all principals would be required to review campus disciplinary data and develop an annual plan for improving their school climate, reducing instances of misbehavior and rectifying inequities.

The proposed policy was designed to ensure discipline is administered equitably throughout the district. The training components were designed to help teachers better manage disruptive students so they don’t have to be removed from class.

Research shows that students who are exposed to high doses of adversity are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors. Research has also shown that schools with lower suspension rates also have higher achievement rates and narrowed achievement gaps, while schools with higher suspension rates see the opposite effect.

The Board of Education must approve a second reading of the proposal before it goes into effect.