by WorldTribune Staff, December 23, 2018
The Trump administration has ended an Obama-era policy on school discipline which, the Wall Street Journal reported, may have been a contributing factor in the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman High School in Florida.
The 2014 policy aimed to address racial disparities in student punishment as where “black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than white students,” the Department of Education said at the time. The policy called on school officials to take “restorative” measures that did not remove students from class, with reporting to police being the final resort.
According to the Wall Street Journal report, the relaxed approach to school discipline instituted by the Obama administration may have contributed to the Florida shooting as school authorities reportedly knew gunman Nicolas Cruz had possession of a firearm he intended to use.
The Parkland shooting on Feb. 14 left 17 people dead.
The Education and Justice Departments formally revoked the Obama administration policy, The Associated Press reported on Dec. 21.
“Our decision to rescind that guidance today makes it clear that discipline is a matter on which classroom teachers and local school leaders deserve and need autonomy,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said, according to the AP. “I would encourage them to continue to implement discipline reforms that they believe will foster improved outcomes for their students.”
President Donald Trump’s safety commission, led by DeVos, released several proposals, including arming school personnel, cities enacting laws where guns can be temporarily removed from people who could hurt themselves or others, and districts installing blast-proof glass on their buildings, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington criticized the rollback of the policy.
“By rescinding this guidance, Secretary DeVos and Acting Attorney General [Matthew] Whitaker are creating confusion for schools and making it harder for students of color to learn without being discriminated against,” Murray said, the AP reported.