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December 10, 2018

Greater Boston Legal Services Settlement with Boston Public Schools Will Reduce School Exclusion

Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) announced that it has settled a complaint on behalf of three clients against Boston Public Schools (BPS) with regards to unlawful suspensions.

As a result, Boston Public Schools has agreed to amend its school discipline policies to:

  • No longer suspend kindergarteners, first graders, or second graders.
  • To suspend third, fourth, and fifth graders only for serious offenses.
  • Design, in collaboration with community groups, professional development trainings for educational staff to increase the use of non-exclusionary alternative discipline.

This is an important victory in reducing the reliance on school exclusion to discipline students, which is linked to poorer educational outcomes and a higher risk of incarceration. Suspensions and expulsions have devastating effects long into students’ futures—these students are more likely to drop out, repeat a grade, and be incarcerated later in life. This is described as the school-to-prison pipeline. The school-to-prison pipeline is a factor when discussing mass incarceration, and it disproportionally affects students of color, students from low income backgrounds, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ students. To read the full press release, click here.

The goal of this settlement is to prevent suspensions altogether by helping educators understand how exclusionary discipline can be of detriment to students and to train educators on alternative, non-exclusionary forms of discipline instead of relying on removing students from classrooms.

If you are looking for more information about the school-to-prison pipeline, school discipline, and the Boston Bar Association’s commitment to addressing this issue, you can read more here. If you have a child who has been harshly disciplined, and are in need of legal representation, please call the Boston Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral service at 617-742-0625 or connect with a nearby attorney online today.