Home News Center D.C. Member Sparks Citywide Ban on Suspension and Expulsion of Pre-K Students

D.C. Member Sparks Citywide Ban on Suspension and Expulsion of Pre-K Students

May 11, 2015
Zoe Schein

In mid-April, the Washington, D.C. City Council  voted unanimously in favor of the Pre-K Student Discipline Amendment Act of 2015 (B21-0001), a bill authored in response to a report titled District Discipline, which was published in part by D.C. Lawyers for Youth (DCLY), an NJJN member, through its Every Student, Every Day Coalition. The act, which has been transmitted to Mayor Muriel Bowser for her signature, restricts schools’ ability to suspend students of pre-kindergarten age only to cases where there is bodily harm, eliminating suspensions for merely behavioral disturbances. The bill also bans the use of full-day suspensions for pre-k students.

“A bill that bans suspension in pre-k is a no-brainer. To be clear, what we’re talking about when we say ‘pre-k’ is toddlers—it’s 3- and 4-year-olds,” said Daniel Okonkwo, Executive Director of DCLY. “We’re happy that it’s passed the council, but this really should go further. The vast majority of suspensions and expulsions occur in the older grades, and that’s where the District should be implementing restorative justice strategies and other alternatives to exclusionary discipline.” 

Okonkwo explained, "What makes this bill unique is that it applies to both public schools and public charter schools. But we also need to enact legislation that addresses suspension and expulsion for older students. To do that, we'll need to reconcile the independence of charter schools to craft an educational experience for their students with our need as a city to ensure that schools discipline their students without pushing them out of school and into the criminal justice system." 

DCLY and the Every Student, Every Day Coalition continue to work toward school discipline reform in Washington, D.C. To learn more about exclusionary discipline in the district, download DCLY’s report District Discipline: The Overuse of Suspension and Expulsion in the District of Columbia

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