Portland Public Schools (PPS) will now have to take into account the race, sexual identity and other factors involving its disruptive students when punishing them. This is one of the most controversial points that appear in the new agreement reached by the different schools in the district to end a strike that affected nearly 45,000 students and lasted nearly three weeks.
As can be read in the new 123-page agreement, from now on the superintendent must review each student's case individually, taking into consideration each student's race, gender and sexual identity before imposing a punishment:
The superintendent or designee shall review disciplinary disparities apparent by race, gender, LGBTQ, plus ID, special education status or other relevant categories with individual building leaders at least annually and plan with them building level responses aimed at reducing disparities.
Additionally, if the student engages in what is described as "continuous disruptive behavior," the school will have to address this through a "support plan." This must be created individually for each student, taking into account each student's personal situation.
The support plan must take into consideration the impact of issues related to the student's trauma, race, gender identity/presentation, sexual orientation, disability, social-emotional learning, and restorative justice as appropriate for the student.
Portland Public Schools' "support plan"
Parents are not pleased with this new measure. Rebeccah Heinrichs, a mother of five, told FOX News that the policy is "completely backwards" and that, she believes, there is "implicit racism in it":
I mean, you do not tell a child that because of his or her skin color that they're going to get a lesser punishment because there's something about that that's driving them to skip school or something. It really kind of takes away the dignity of the child and the choice in autonomy.
It is not the only policy that has been changed. From now on, according to the Washington Free Beacon, the school will not be able to expel a student for attacking another classmate. They can only be temporarily kicked out of the classroom. The language has also been softened. They no longer "handle" a problematic student, but rather the agreement requires that they "support" that student. The term "unacceptable" student behavior disappears and now becomes "continuously disruptive." Punishments are no longer part of a "behavior correction plan" but now belong to a "support plan."
Portland public schools' Parents Defending Education senior advisor Michele Exner told the Washington Free Beacon that these changes are "absurd": "These policies are wrong, counterproductive, and will only feed into the divisive climate we are seeing across academic institutions," Exner said.