CHARLOTTE -- Charlotte-Mecklenburg School leaders are trying to find a way to limit suspensions especially for younger students.

"This would be a huge change for us as a school system,” said Ericka Ellis-Stewart, a policy committee and CMS board member.

Ellis-Stewart says just from pre-K to 2nd grade, more than 1,000 kids were suspended last year.

"I also thought about the fact that they're 4, 5, 6, 7 year olds, who are really just learning how to be in a structured learning environment,” said Ellis-Stewart.

CMS board members discussed a potential policy change Wednesday to find ways to punish students without taking them out of school, so they don't fall behind.

Superintendent Ann Clark says the change would also look at ways to correct that misbehavior, which could involve mental health support.

"I think we're all clear, if a student is suspended and that's all that we do, we haven't really changed what caused that student to do that particular thing that resulted in an out-of-school suspension,” said Clark.

But before the rules change, CMS needs more research to narrow down the issue.

"We'll also be able to look at it by race and by gender and notice. Do we have any hotspots or are there any places where we're really seeing a trend?” said Ellis-Stewart.

She says it's not just a policy change. This can also shape a student's future since the more they're suspended, the more likely they'll end up in jail.

"So I think we really have to think about what role we play as the school system in this whole notion of school to prison pipeline,” said Ellis-Stewart.

Ellis-Stewart says the policy committee will discuss this suspension change at its next meeting.

She says it could take a year before the change goes into effect, which would require the full board's approval.