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Fewer Minnesota students suspended under new programs

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's education commissioner and school leaders from around the state said Thursday that a decline in student suspensions and other severe discipline shows a new approach to student behavior is paying off.

ST. PAUL - Minnesota’s education commissioner and school leaders from around the state said Thursday that a decline in student suspensions and other severe discipline shows a new approach to student behavior is paying off.
Statewide student suspensions fell 20 percent since 2010, Brenda Cassellius, education commissioner, said at a roundtable Thursday. Black and Hispanic students saw suspension rates fall by about 27 percent over the same time period.
Cassellius attributed the decline to districts using a program called Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, or PBIS, that aims to address the root cause of students’ poor behavior without removing them from classes long term.
“Over the past four years, we have made a conscious effort to address student behavior in a way that will not disrupt a child’s learning, and it is exciting to see we are making progress,” Cassellius said in a prepared statement.
The positive interventions and supports program was first used in Minnesota in 2005. It is now used in 153 districts, or about 25 percent of the state’s 2,000 schools, state data show.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed including $4.6 million in the next biennium budget to expand the program to another 600 schools.
“These schools understand that suspensions are not an effective measure of discipline, and often cause a child to fall behind in class,” Cassellius said.
“I want to thank Governor Dayton for recognizing the importance of this work and including it in his budget proposal.”
The data released Thursday also showed a 20 percent reduction in the use of “prone restraint” on students. According to the state Department of Education, prone restraint and other restrictive procedures are used in emergencies to subdue a student who may hurt themselves, other students or staff.
A 2013 report by the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership found minority students faced suspension from school at a rate higher than white students. The group found Minnesota had the nation’s sixth-highest gap in suspensions between black and white students.

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