CMS continues efforts to lower suspension rate among elementary students

- Students as young as 4-years-old, being suspended from school? That's the reality at Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and schools across the state. Just three years ago, about 1,200 CMS students between Pre-K and 2nd grade faced suspension.

The hope is CMS leader will continue to monitor suspension numbers in an effort to prevent unnecessary out of school suspensions.

Future superintendents will be required to check in with principals as part of a policy change approved Thursday.

"What I am hearing from principals is they are seeing more and more children challenged with mental health issues," said outgoing superintendent, Ann Clark.

Last year. CMS school board member Ericka Ellis-Stewart asked the district to consider looking at eliminating suspensions for students in lower grade levels. That idea has raised concerns about safety in the classroom.

"You have to strike the balance that the classroom environment is conducive to teaching and learning," said Clark.

Students acting out that aren't a threat to safety in the classroom are now being referred to in school therapists.

"The mental health providers can go beyond what the guidance counselor is able and trained to do in terms of providing very targeted intense mental health services," said Clark.

The program will soon be in every elementary school. The school board plans to look at suspension policies again in the future.

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