President Donald Trump’s school safety commission released policy proposals Tuesday to roll back former President Barack Obama’s relaxed discipline rules that discouraged schools from punishing students.
The Obama administration’s 2014 policy addressed the racial disparities in school punishments, where “black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than white students,” the Department of Education’s website said. Out of the 49 million public school students, more than 3 million students were suspended in school, 3.45 million students were suspended out of school and 130,000 students were expelled in the 2011-2012 academic year.
The Obama-era guidelines highlighted discipline models like the one adopted by the Broward County school district in Florida, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. The district decided to offer counseling, behavior support and mentoring instead of resorting to arresting students.
However, the relaxed policy could have contributed to the district’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, WSJ reported. School officials reportedly knew the suspected gunman had behavior problems, including drinking gasoline and possessing a firearm he intended to use.
The Parkland shooting left 17 people dead on Feb. 14.
The Obama administration is not the only one who wanted to relax school punishment over racial disparity. The Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council held a rally on Oct. 30 and said the city suspended black students for longer amounts of time on bullying and reckless behavior compared to other racial groups.
“Most out-of-school suspensions come from minor, nonviolent offenses,” Kristen Harper, who worked in the Obama Education Department, said, according to WSJ.
The safety commission is led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and was created in March by Trump, The Associated Press reported.
Some of the other policy recommendations include districts installing blast-proof glass on their buildings, arming school personnel and cities enacting laws where guns can be temporarily removed from people who could hurt themselves or others, according to WSJ.
The Trump administration is the third consecutive administration to propose its own school safety recommendations, WSJ reported. Obama’s administration released recommendations after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut and former President George W. Bush’s administration released guidelines after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.
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