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State Schools Superintendent Seeks Public Comment On New Student Discipline Rules

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo

Low-income kids, black and Latino students and children in special education are suspended and expelled at above-average rates. State lawmakers have passed legislation in recent years aimed at reducing the disproportionate use of discipline.

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has been collecting public comment on proposed rules outlining the changes. There’s a public hearing in Olympia at 1:00 pm on Monday and the deadline for people to submit written comments is 5:00 pm.

“The lay of the land has changed pretty significantly and it’s happened very quickly, too, in successive sessions,” said Dierk Meierbachtol, chief legal officer in the superintendent’s office. “So as we sit here, I think there’s some lack of clarity from the standpoint of school administrators, teachers, parents and students about what the current requirements are under the law.”

There are a number of changes the legislature has made. One is that if kids are excluded from the classroom, they’re still supposed to receive educational services. Another change is that school districts have to hold a meeting with parents and the student after a long-term suspension or expulsion to help the kid readjust to school.

Meierbachtol said the aim of these proposed rule changes is to give more guidance to school districts about what they’re supposed to do and to improve their readability and understandability.

OSPI has been gathering feedback from around the state, and held hearings in Spokane, Yakima and Renton. Meierbachtol said the proposed rules may change based on comments from the public. 

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.