By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A new report looks at the impact on “zero tolerance” policies in school districts across Pennsylvania. The study shows the policy has a disparate impact on minority students.

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“Beyond Zero Tolerance: Discipline and Policing in Pennsylvania Public Schools” takes data from the 2011-12 school year from more than 500 school districts across the Commonwealth.

“It’s pretty clear that black students are the most likely to be suspended, Latino students are second and students with disabilities are pretty high on that list,” says Harold Jordan, ACLU of Pennsylvania project director and author of the report.

According to the report, over the past 15 years, removing kids from school through out of school suspensions has become a widely used disciplinary practice for infractions as severe as fighting to as minor violating a dress code.

“You have a situation where lots of kids are suspended, schools are no safer and lots of kids are on the street,” says Jordan, “We ought to embrace other approaches that are known to work.”

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Philadelphia School District spokesman Fernando Gallard says Philadelphia public schools eliminated its zero tolerance policy in 2011 and is now trending downward when it comes to expulsions.

“We went from a high of 237, now we are in the high 30s, low 40s,” he says, “our number one goal is to keep students in school and to teach them not only how to learn, but also how to behave.”

The report, which took three years to complete, more than 166,000 out of school suspensions in the 2011 to 2012 school year and 1800 expulsions out of 1.8 million in Pennsylvania public schools.

Follow KYW’s Cherri Gregg on Twitter at @cherrigregg

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