Principals will be required to incorporate "restorative justice" programs like peer courts to address the unacceptable behavior while keeping the students in school.
Board members noted that suspensions and expulsions disproportionately affect African-American, Latino and Pacific Islander students.
"There is a direct correlation between how much time a student is in class and their academic achievement," said board President Kim-Shree Maufas in a statement. "Sometimes we are too quick to suspend a child without taking the time to explore other means of corrective action, which may in fact result in changing a child's behavior for the better in the long term."
The new policy, adopted 6-0 (board member Hydra Mendoza was absent), will kick in for all middle schools and a handful of elementary and high schools next fall, with additional schools incorporated in subsequent years.
The policy being debated can be found from pages 26-40 of the board's agenda.
The school board's press release can be found here.