Are School Suspensions on the Rise?

Dana Stahl, a learning specialist and educational consultant, will address educational questions and concerns that parents may have regarding their children’s academic development and progress in school. Topics can center on such concerns as how to handle homework dilemmas or what questions to ask at a CSE meeting. Questions can range from “How best do parents advocate for their children?” to “How do parents interpret formal tests that have been administered?” to “Which schools and colleges are right for my child?”

Readers can write to Dana at dana@educationalalternativesllc.com. Dana will respond to one reader’s question a month. Dana hopes that her response will alleviate parents’ concerns and offer useful educational advice.

Q. Is it true that school suspensions are on the rise?

Sign Up for E-News

A. Yes, school suspensions are absolutely on the rise. New standards of behavior and expectations of students from kindergarten to 12th grade are in place in both private and public schools. The number of children who are suspended for nonviolent acts is alarming. In one case, a kindergartener was suspended for calling his teacher “a dumb bunny!”  Because suspensions have adverse effects on our children, we need to develop solutions, not suspensions.

Lisa Syron, the executive director of Student Advocacy, and Stefanie Shabman, the legal director, of Student Advocacy recently gave us some numbers in “Solutions Not Suspensions,” a presentation that Student Advocacy gave on the topic. Their findings reveal that more than 100,000 students were suspended from NYC’s schools in the 2011-2012 school year, representing 4% of the student population. An estimated 78% of the suspensions in grades 11-12 in NYC and 94% of the suspensions in Westchester were for nonviolent incidents.  

Alarmingly, 22% of all suspended children are elementary school students. Statistics indicate that disabled students are far more likely to be suspended than their nondisabled counterparts.

School suspensions lead to loss of academic time and, often, to academic failure. Syron and Shabman report that among students suspended in, the NYC’s 2011-2012 school year, 31% were held back compared with 5% of students who were not suspended.

Sadly, school suspensions nationally are a gateway into the juvenile justice system. A three-day suspension plus 20 additional absences has been correlated to a 61% increase in arrest rates among students. Schools in this scenario are a prison pipeline.

Clearly, faculty training is needed to foster acceptance of best practices in working with disabled students.  Administrations need to review each case prior to a school suspension to determine if an alternative solution can be put into place. For instance, an elementary student who has an auditory processing disorder may not ‘hear’ the command to ‘remove his hat’ in the hallway by his teacher or principal. The hallway may offer too many external distractions for the student to ‘tune’ into that instruction. So, even though hats are not allowed to be worn in school, and despite the fact that this child may have been asked repeatedly to ‘remove his hat,’ a suspension for insubordination would be an unreasonable solution for that student.

Alternative solutions to suspensions are crucial because students often make poor decisions and their social judgment is not sound. After all, students are children, and educational institutions need to embrace these situations as teachable moments, not punitive ones. Examples that Syron and Shabman suggest as alternative solutions to suspensions included community service and a campaign to show the harm of smoking when caught smoking on school grounds. With regard to alcohol use, they suggest weekly in-school detentions with group counseling in alcoholism and addiction.  

Another suggestion for alternative responses for disciplinary offenses is restoration justice –making amends for inappropriate action and having the punishment fit the crime. Other suggestions include reflective essays making apologies and taking ownership for the actions, as well as parent meetings, community service, and withdrawal of privileges.  Examples of preventative measures that will also help to avoid suspensions include training by mental health professionals who will instruct faculty on how to deescalate situations. Mediation, academic support, credit recovery, mentoring coaches and actively teaching social skills and character development will all aid in reducing the increase in school suspensions.

by Dana Stahl, M.Ed., Educational Alternatives LLC

Dana’s educational consultant practice focuses on assessment, advocacy and school placement for students with learning disabilities and social-emotional challenges. http://educationalalternativesllc.com

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Mahopac

Here's What You Missed Last Week

Last week, the Daily News ran a headline, “When is our father coming home?” This dealt with a person here illegally, married to an American woman with a family, who was arrested at an Army base while delivering pizza. You are supposed to think that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), under Trump, is tearing families apart. As usual, it was a crock of cow pies. It was ...

Watergate Analogies Apply to Obama, Not Trump

My liberal counterpart in this publication is about my age. Maybe I am the baby of the group, but we all have had the same seminal experiences of our youth: Vietnam, the civil rights movement and Watergate. These are what shaped our political perspectives.

Looking back, maybe, just maybe those who thought Nixon was really deserving of his fate cannot be faulted for thinking so. It was once ...

Reagan on Trump

The party of “Honest Abe” has now become the party of Dishonest Don, and what follows are some disturbing displays of a Republican Party that has become devoid of conscience:

• More than 4,600 American citizens dead in Puerto Rico—a postscript to the government’s abysmal response to the widespread devastation of Hurricane Maria; 
• The underhanded ...

The Rich Get Richer, and We’re Paying For It

According to a Harvard University study published late last year, most Americans believe that the richest 20 percent of Americans own just half of the nation’s wealth. Wrong! The top 20 percent own 93 percent of the nation’s wealth, and the top 1 percent own 40 percent of that wealth. Additionally, the top 10 percent of earners in 2017 took home more than half the nation’s ...

Competing—Against Yourself

This is the time of year when students are recognized at public ceremonies for notable achievements in their studies, their sports and in their extracurricular pursuits.

Where we live, there are awards in various sports that are named for our son, who also is memorialized by town ballfield Harrison Apar Field of Dreams and a charitable foundation of the same name.

Due to a rare dwarfism, ...

Honoring Our Veterans’ Freedom of Speech

Memorial Day is over, but writing about America’s veterans doesn’t have an expiration date.

My dad, George, was as proud a veteran as you’d meet. He served in the Army in World War II and loved our country no less than the next veteran. I am proud of him, as is my brother, Robert, who served in the Air Force.

Growing up, the one vacation we took each year was spent with ...

I Come from the Land Down Under

I know this is a family column, so I’m going to put this in as delicate terms as possible.

This morning I woke up and I knew, as sure as the sun shines over Bora Bora, that something was very, very wrong in that place in my body where the Bora Bora sun doesn’t shine.

It’s that place I used to refer to my daughter as her hoo-hoo. But it certainly wasn’t a happy ...

Mouthing Off

When I went for oral surgery last spring, the doctor told me he could only do one half of my mouth that day or I wouldn’t be able to eat for two weeks. Considering it was almost bathing suit season, I didn’t think that was necessarily a bad thing. But he convinced me otherwise, and told me if I was really gung ho about getting it all done, I could come back in a month or so to have ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_b4cc78dd32adbbf57c97_2018_hiv_testing_day_eng

Wed, June 27, 9:00 AM

Putnam County Department of Health, Brewster

PCDOH Free HIV Testing Day

Health & Wellness

Facebook Provides Verification Badges for All TAPinto Facebook Pages

June 4, 2018

TAPinto and its 75 partner sites have been verified on Facebook with the social media platform's blue badge, which is given to news organizations that meet Facebook's authenticity criteria. 

Facebook gives the blue verification badge to "eligible brands, media organizations and public figures," based on factors that include policy compliance and public ...