Hillsborough Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins brought the latest data on school suspensions to the Hillsborough County school board on Tuesday. He said out-of-school suspensions were down 53 percent from the same time period last year. Eakins said there were several reasons why.
"There is strong advocacy for kids," Eakins said. "There are increased interventions at school sites prior to suspension. There is increased communication between our principals and our area superintendents." Eakins said he was "very proud" of the numbers.
Hillsborough public schools made sweeping changes to their discipline policies last summer to try to lower suspension rates, especially among black male students.
School board member Melissa Snively, however, expressed concern about how the relaxed policy could affect the school's operations.
"I'm definitely glad to see that they're spending more time in school," Snively said, "but I also want to make sure that it's not coming at a particular cost. Is there higher tolerance for misbehavior, are there more distractions in class going on?"
The policy changes were prompted by a U.S. Department of Education investigation into the racial disparity of Hillsborough's suspension rates.