A Delaware legislative task force releases the results of its study into ways the state can improve school discipline policies.
Changes are going to made in the way Delaware schools punish students. The move follows several punishments for minor infractions at Delaware schools last year. The state’s task force assigned to examine school discipline policy has released its report on recommended changes.
The punishment for Christina School District 1st grader Zachary Christie drew national attention, including featured articles in the New York Times and made the district and the state a punchline for late night comedians. Christie’s camping utensil was dubbed a dangerous weapon by school officials, and he had faced 45 days in an alternative school for bringing it to class.
In light of the reaction to that discipline, and its subsequent reduction, the School Discipline Task Force is recommending more flexibility for local districts when disciplining students. Task force co-chairman state Rep. Darryl Scott (D) says, “You want to be consistent and fair with how you administer discipline, but you have to want to do the right thing for the student. The goal is not to unduly subject children to the criminal justice system.” The report recommends increasing the age that an accused student would be turned over to police from 9 years old to 12.
The task force calls for the state Department of Education to develop common definitions and procedures for placing students into alternative programs. The group also wants a better definition of responsibilities and guidelines for Student Resource Officers. Scott says, “Everyone on the task force was focused on a singular goal: doing what is best for our students while remaining dedicated to the need to provide a safe environment for all students and staff.”