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TPS Continues to De-Emphasize Suspensions for Student Discipline

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Tulsa Public Schools moves to punish fewer students with suspensions in the upcoming school year.

The school board approved Monday changes to the district's Behavior Response Plan that will encourage alternative punishments for minor infractions.

"There were a number of occasions where suspension was being used for things like truancy and cutting class," said Deputy Superintendent Paula Shannon. "We want to keep kids in school, not out of school."

Infractions like truancy and disrupting class will be handled with intervention measures like student or parent conferences and mentoring.

"For serious offenses like fighting, bringing weapons to school, things that significantly undermine the safety of a school community, we most certainly will still use suspension as a consequence," Shannon said.

The number of TPS suspensions decreased 8 percent over the last school year, and the district hopes for another 5 percent drop this year.

"We most certainly want to see suspensions go down, but we want to see those suspensions go down not because we're focusing on suspensions but because we're focusing on how we can really create supportive places of learning," Shannon said.

School administrators and teachers will be taught the policy changes before classes start, and the training will continue throughout the year on in-service days.