By Jared Austin, WVLT

The Knox County School District released its discipline report to the Knox County Board of Education and public this month.

Officials found in the report that Black students, as well as low-income students, are suspended more than any other race or income group.

Knox County Schools has worked with Justice Knox on possible solutions.

KCS Director of School Culture Janice Cook said, “We have a lot of work to do, and we’ll continue working diligently to get those numbers down.”

“Keep them in school and in a learning environment. Suspension takes them out of a learning environment. What we want to do is keep them in a learning environment,” Joe Maddox, co-president of Justice Knox, said.

Cook said every middle and high school in the district has a restorative learning center instead of giving a student in-school suspension. He said this allows them to keep the students in a better learning environment.

In 2023, the school district made a deal with the International Institute of Restorative Practices. The district is contracted with them to work at five schools in Knox County.

District officials said all of the schools working with this group are in Region 5 of the district. This includes Austin-East High School, Vine Middle School, Sarah Moore Green Magnet Academy, Green Magnet Academy and Maynard Elementary,

“We are looking to put structures in place in those specific schools to strengthen the support we give both the students and the staff,” Cook said.

Cook said building these relationships will help students feel safer and more comfortable at school talking with teachers and staff. The hope is this will also help students make better life decisions to keep them in school.

“It’s important we give everybody in our community, all of the kids in our community, the best chance that we can afford in our community,” Maddox said.

Knox County Schools signed a two year deal with IIRP and could make as much as $403,000 off the deal.

District officials said they plan to discuss the discipline data on a more regular basis in the future.

View the original story here.