SOWK 600 Dr. Reisch
Policy Analysis: Public Schools – Suspension and Expulsion bill
Summary of Social Issue
During the 2015-2016 school year, 2,363 students from grades pre-kindergarten through second grade were suspended out of school or expelled from public schools in the state. This is an 18 percent increase from the previous year.1 The policy that went into effect on July 1, 2017, is the Maryland House Bill 425 (and Senate Bill 651) that was approved by Governor, Lawrence Hogan Jr. Sponsored by delegate Brooke Lierman, this bill prohibits a child enrolled in a public pre-kindergarten program, as defined by the bill, or in kindergarten, first, or second grade from being suspended or expelled from school, subject to exceptions.2 The bill allows a student in the specified grades to be expelled if required by federal law. The rates of preschool and elementary school children being suspended or expelled has gotten out of control. It has caused enough damage that some states including Maryland have implemented programs to prevent children from those age groups from getting suspended or expelled so easily. These programs include Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation and Social and Emotional Foundation for Early Learning. Along with programs, the suspension and expulsion bill protects these children under the law. Children from preschool to second grade are prohibited from getting suspended or expelled unless it involves something life-threatening. Some of these kids could be suffering from developmental issues, hunger, abusive environments, or mental illness. To suspend them or expel them may cause more harm than good and it only provides a temporary solution.
The Population at Risk
The Public Schools -- Suspension and Expulsion bill is designed to protect children as young as three years old from getting suspended or expelled from school with such facility. In California and around the country, preschoolers are actually expelled at a rate more than three times higher than their peers in K-12 grades.3 Nationally, 1 million children were served in public preschool programs, with about 60 percent of districts offering preschool during the 2011-2012 school year, according to the data. The data show nearly 5,000 preschoolers were suspended once. At least 2,500 were suspended more than once.4 The following school year, more than 6,700 three and four year-olds were suspended from public preschool nationwide.5
Children of color and children with disabilities receive these sanctions at higher rates more than their fellow counterparts whom are Caucasian. Discipline disparities have long been a concern in Maryland. In 2007, a report by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) Task Force on the Education of Maryland’s African-American males revealed that black, male students were disciplined more often, and more harshly, with no evidence of more serious misbehavior or higher rates of misbehavior.6 In 2009, Atanya...