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Discipline policy changes coming to Gwinnett Schools after data shows Black students punished more often

GCPS said this will be an ongoing conversation, but it plans to have new guidelines and policies in place by the start of the next year.

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Gwinnett County Public Schools is working to make changes to its discipline policy and protocol to make it more equitable for students

The changes at the schools are in response to numbers that show Blacks, Hispanics and students with disabilities are often punished more and more severely than others. 

"We want to get to the bottom of that to ensure that all of our students have a fair and equitable learning experience while they're students here," the said the district's executive director for academic support, Eric Thigpen.

According to data from the Governor's Office of Student Achievement (2019-2020), 33 percent of students are Black and account for about 47 percent of disciplinary actions at GCPS. 

Credit: Data from Governor's Office of Student Achievement

RELATED: State data shows Black students punished more often, severely than other races

Thigpen said the district is analyzing enrollment data and evaluating it to look for areas that are disproportionate in order to support both short-term and long-term changes in schools. 

Community members have also expressed to the GCPS Student Code of Conduct Review Committee that students need to have advocates for them and ensure staff members are fully equipped to understanding cultural similarities and differences, Thigpen said. 

GCPS said this will be an ongoing conversation, it but plans to have new guidelines and policies in place by the start of the next year. The district also plans to open up the conversation to teachers and staff later this week. 

Thigpen said the district also wants to provide more resources to help support staff and incorporate more research-based strategies into the student code of conduct review. 

"We know there's still a lot of work that needs to be done and it's very important that we continue to collaborate with our business partners, with our community partners, our parents and listen to our student voices as well," Thigpen said. "Our students often times - their voices are overlooked and we need to make sure that their voice is heard in this improvement process."

Watch the full interview below.