BOSTON (AP) — Students who are suspended or expelled from Massachusetts schools will soon have more educational options, under a new state law signed by Gov. Deval Patrick.

School districts will be required to provide education programs for expelled or suspended students and to more accurately report discipline data to the state, beginning in July 2014. The law also establishes a 90 school day maximum period of exclusion, requires schools to consider alternative disciplines and creates a process for dealing with students who must permanently leave school.

Supporters say the law will help keep students focused on their education and allow the state to investigate racial and ethnic disparities in these punishments.

But opponents call the law “unrealistic” and say it will burden already financially strapped districts.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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