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McKnight Bill Establishing Task Force to Examine School Discipline Practices Advances

TRENTON – The Senate Education Committee advanced legislation today sponsored by Senator Angela V. McKnight that would establish a task force to examine, evaluate, and make recommendations on the effectiveness of discipline policies and any racial disparities in the implementation of such policies in New Jersey public schools.

“Significant racial inequality exists within student discipline practices across the state. Black students are over 3 times more likely to be suspended than white students, with Black girls and Black students with disabilities facing the greatest disparity,” said Senator McKnight (D-Hudson). “School suspensions result in lost instructional time that stifles academic achievement and long-term success. By studying current discipline methods and developing new policies that combat racial disparity and learning loss, we can improve student outcomes and reduce classroom time lost for disruptive behavior.”

School discipline rates have been rising in New Jersey following the pandemic. In the 2022-2023 school year alone, 61,132 students were suspended from school on at least one occasion and over 222,000 school days were missed as a result.

The task force established by the bill, S-2945, would consist of 11 members, including the Commissioner of Education or a designee, along with experts in education and school administration.

Upon completion of the task force’s investigation into the effectiveness of school discipline policies, the task force would issue a final report on its findings and recommendations to the Governor and Legislature.

The bill advanced out of committee in a 5-0 vote.