Dallas ISD proposes to stop out-of-school suspensions for younger students

Dallas ISD is considering a proposal that would stop out-of-school suspensions for younger students.

Under the new proposal, students in pre-k through second grade would not be suspended, except in situations where it's required by law.

Lakashia Wallace says her son Joseph has had problems in school from the start.

“I noticed his behavior wasn't quite like the other children,” she said. “He was suspended in pre-K. He was suspended in the first grade, second grade and then at the third grade. I was told he was in an altercation with another student and would have to go to the alternative school.”

By third grade, Joseph been suspended nine times.  In 2011 when he was in middle school, Wallace and her son were part of FOX 4’s coverage of DISD’s punishment policy.

“I even had some teachers who felt it was corporal punishment that he needed,” Wallace explained. “I had several teachers tell me maybe he needed to be spanked harder.”

Wallace says things improved when Joseph was diagnosed as bipolar and other disorders. But his case is not unique.

According to data from DISD school board member Miguel Solis, about 5, 472 kids in pre-k through fifth grade were suspended in 2015. More than half of the kids were African American.

“When you see numbers like that, you have to make a change,” said Solis.

According to the proposed policy, out-of-school suspensions for pre-k through second grade would be phased out during the 2017-2018 school year and would only be used as a last resort for third through fifth graders.

“The goal is to keep kids in school number one, and number two, make sure we're getting at the root cause of what might be causing a lot of these disruptions,” said Solis.

As for Wallace, she hopes a reformed policy can help other kids, like her, son stay in the classroom.

“Early on, if we have children that are continuing to be disruptive, let's find out what the root of these problems are, not sending them home for 2 or 3 days,” Wallace said.