New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at a press conference after witnessing police being retrained with new guidelines at the Police Academy on Dec. 4, 2014, in the College Point neighborhood of New York City’s Queens borough.
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

In an effort to curb severe punishments that have mostly targeted minorities, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration on Friday announced changes to New York City public schools’ discipline code, according to the New York Times.

Under the new plan, principals will have to seek Department of Education approval for suspensions of any student from kindergarten to third grade, and the more serious superintendents’ supervisions for “minor physical infractions” will be eliminated altogether, according to Capital News.

The change could help reduce widespread suspensions of minorities. “During the 2013-2014 school year—the most recent year for which data is available—53,000 suspensions were issued, and black or Hispanic students made up 87 percent of those suspensions,” the News writes.

Civil rights advocates have long criticized the city’s schools for unfair suspensions for minor infractions, which they say have helped feed minorities into the school-to-prison pipeline, the news outlet notes.

“No parent should have to choose between a school that’s safe for their child and a school where every student is treated fairly,” De Blasio said in a statement, the Times writes. “All our schools can and must be both.”

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Read more at the New York Times and Capital News.