New Missouri bill may stop suspensions for young students

Regional News

Crying caucasian child boy sitting on a schoolyard bench covering his face

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Missouri state representative has pre-filed legislation to stop suspensions for students in kindergarten through third grade. Democratic State Rep. Ian Mackey says that it is a form of punishment for children too young to understand it.

Childcare also makes suspensions for young children a problem for parents. The young kids cannot be left at home without supervision. Their parents must either stay home to supervise them or pay someone for help.

“Children need to be in class unless they are an immediate physical danger to themselves or others,” writes Mackey.

Several school districts in the St. Louis area have ended out-of-school suspensions for their youngest students. They banned out-of-school suspensions for pre-school through third-grade students. Kansas City recently banned suspensions for students through 5th grade, going even further than his bill would require.

Some experts say suspending a student by putting them out of the learning environment, punishes the child but does not actually remedy the behavior. Mackey also noted that suspensions are too often imposed disproportionately on students of color. A 2015 study by UCLA last year showed Missouri had the highest racial disparity in-school suspensions.

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