Minneapolis public schools now need approval before suspending black students

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In the Minneapolis school system, students of color are ten times more likely to be suspended than their white counterparts — and one superintendent is aiming to change those numbers.

Bernadeia Johnson, a superintendent, is enacting policy that will require schools to obtain permission from her office for all nonviolent suspensions of non-white students.

This change follows another made earlier this year by Johnson’s office banning suspensions for pre-Kindergarten through first grade students.

The latest suspension rules are part of an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in which the district will clean up its data system, increase student involvement, increase staff, and take other steps to ensure students at these schools have a fair chance at a good education.

The lopsided race suspension data is not limited to Minneapolis schools, however. Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights found that black boys and girl are suspended at a higher rate than any other students — 20 percent for boys and 12 percent for girls.

The problem is occurring at a national level, but perhaps this local superintendent can help set the example for other school districts.