RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The Wake County School Board is planning to discuss changes to its student conduct policy Tuesday night, including when and why a student should get suspended from school.
This discussion comes after outcries from advocates saying minorities are being disciplined differently.
When a video of Micah Speed pulling down another student in school was released earlier this year, his punishment was swift.
He initially received two weeks out of school suspension, which was later revised to five days.
Geraldine Alshamy is an advocate that worked with Speed’s family.
“White children who commit those same offenses and their punishment is not as harsh,” said Alshamy, who runs an organization called Mary Magdalene Ministries.
Alshamy says there’s a systemic problem in Wake County schools.
Numbers show that while overall suspensions have decreased by 19 percent over the past five years, African American students are suspended at a higher rate than their peers.
“Time away from school causes a drop in grades and also leads to dropouts,” said Alshamy.
Wake County school leaders agree with Alshamy on that point.
Brenda Elliott is the assistant superintendent for Student Support Services.
She says they’re proposing changes to their student conduct policy that are, “more proactive as opposed to punitive.”
Elliott says they are encouraging restorative practices as opposed to out of school suspensions for low level offenses.
“A student is just excluded for an amount of time. They don’t necessarily learn a new skill set in order to change their behavior. So restorative practices really focus more on how do you help change behavior,” said Elliot.
However, the changes seem small to Alshamy, who says there’s still too much discretion left to principals.
She says until the community has a bigger role in schools, the numbers won’t change.
Tuesday will be the school board’s second reading of the proposed changes.
They could approve the policy Tuesday, or at their next meeting.
CBS North Carolina will update you as soon as they made a decision.