Maryland's State Board of Education has enacted a policy requiring public schools to track data to ensure that students of color, as well as those with disabilities, are not unduly affected by suspensions, expulsions, or other disciplinary actions.

Maryland joins other states in enacting policies that reduce suspensions with the idea of keeping students inside the classroom when disciplining them, according to a story in The Washington Post. Suspensions and expulsions would be used only as a last resort; instead, schools would focus on rehabilitation policies.

Russell Skiba, a professor at Indiana University, said Maryland may be the largest educational entity so far to address "racial disparities in discipline" in this manner, The Post reported.

The California-based Urban Strategies Council has released a study that indicates students from low-income families, particularly black males, face harsher disciplines, including suspensions and expulsions, which interrupt their education. Further, a 2011 study found that about 60 percent of suspensions were associated with nominally serious infractions, The New York Times reported.

In examining its disciplinary practices, Maryland found that during the 2010-2011 school year, about 8 percent of all students had been suspended.

This article is part of our Next America: Higher Education project, which is supported by grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation.

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