Maryland schools discipline changes: Vote postponed, comment period extended

Maryland education officials will extend until early January the public comment period on proposed discipline regulations designed to reduce out-of-school suspensions and shift the thinking behind student punishments in schools across the state.

State officials said they decided on the extension — and an official “republishing” of the proposed regulations — after making a few wording changes for clarity. They expect to re-issue the proposed regulations during coming weeks.

The Maryland State Board of Education is now expected to vote on the matter in January. A vote had been planned for December.

The regulations were proposed amid concerns about an overuse of harsh discipline for student missteps that could be handled in a different way. Officials envision a positive approach that moves away from zero-tolerance ideas and keeps more students in school and on track to graduation.

The new regulations would also require school systems to come up with ways to reduce disparities in suspension rates by race, ethnicity and other characteristics.

State officials have asked for public comment at other times throughout a process that has lasted nearly three years. Many educators, parents and advocates around the state have weighed in. Some still oppose the state’s plans.

Donna St. George writes about education, with an emphasis on Montgomery County schools.

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