The Obama administration has spearheaded the push to limit student punishments out of fears that the penalties are racially disproportionate.
Students in public schools in Oakland, Calif. will no longer face suspension if they swear at teachers — or ignore teachers’ instructions, or tell teachers off or decide to spend time texting instead of paying attention in class.
On Wednesday night, board members of the Oakland Unified School District voted to phase the punishment out over the next year because of concerns that black students are disproportionately suspended for such misbehavior, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
School officials broadly define this kind of misconduct under the category of willful defiance. It’s a catchall. Other examples include everything from refusing to remove a hat at a teacher’s request, to sleeping in class, to walking out of class without permission.
Expulsions for willful defiance (as well as forcing students to change schools) will also come under the ban on the punishment.
A handful of other California school districts, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, have already forbidden suspensions for willful defiance.
Also, a California state law already bans willful defiance suspensions for all public students in the third grade and lower.