April 19 was a historic evening at the St. Louis Public Schools board meeting. Upon the recommendation of Superintendent Kelvin Adams and Deputy Superintendent Stacy Clay, the Special Administrative Board of SLPS adopted a new student discipline code, which reflects restorative discipline and trauma-informed practices. In addition, they ended the practice of out-of-school suspensions for students in preschool through second grade ("St. Louis schools ban suspensions for youngest students," April 20).
Metropolitan Congregations United and Students4Change have consistently been the voice for ending out-of-school suspensions for students at every grade level, not only the youngest. We have been advocating for restorative discipline and trauma-informed practices for several years.
Even though a first step has been taken, MCU continues to advocate the ending of all out-of-school suspensions, for all students at every grade level. We can’t let any more of our children, no matter their grade level, enter the school-to-prison pipeline, which often begins with that first suspension from school.
Which school district will be next to adopt these new discipline practices and codes? After all, Missouri ranks first in the nation in the number of out-of-school suspensions, not only SLPS. Every Missouri school district needs to put in place alternative strategies that will keep children, disproportionately African-American, out of the school-to-prison pipeline. Every school needs to have professional development for teachers and support staff to give them the tools they need to help each child be successful, not suspended.
Carolyn Randazzo • St. Louis
Education task force, Metropolitan Congregations United