Tag Archives: Suspension

School districts looking at ‘zero tolerance’ policies

2 Dec

In 2010 Council of State Governments Justice Center wrote a policy brief, Zero Tolerance Policies:
What are zero tolerance policies?

• Zero tolerance policies, which began as a way to approach drug enforcement, were widely adopted by schools in the 1990s. They mandate certain punishments for infractions regardless of the circumstances.1
• The most common reason for suspensions are fights, yet the majority of infractions are nonviolent, including:
•• Abusive language;
•• Attendance issues, such as tardiness;
•• Disobedience or disrespect; and
•• General classroom disruptions.2
Research is beginning to show there may be disparities in how zero tolerance policies are applied.
• Suspensions for students in kindergarten through the 12th grade have at least doubled since the 1970s for minority students.3
• Black students are more than three times more likely to be suspended than white students.4
• Looking at suspension data from 18 of the largest urban middle schools in 2002 and 2006, the greatest increase was among black females, which increased by more than 5 percent.
•• Black male suspensions increased by 1.7 percent.
•• Suspensions among white and Hispanic males and females either increased by less than half a percent or decreased.5
• In one study, 47 percent of elementary and middle school students, and 73 percent of high school students with emotional disabilities were suspended or expelled from school.6
• A Kansas study found that students with emotional disabilities were 12 times more likely to be suspended or expelled than all other students, including those
with and without disabilities.7
Whether zero tolerance policies improve the school environment and allow increased academic achievement is debatable.
• Studies show there is no evidence that connects student suspensions, which are perceived to improve the learning environment for other students by removing troublemakers, to improved academic outcomes for the school as a whole.8
• Students suspended in the sixth grade are more likely to receive suspensions in the eighth grade, indicating that suspensions are not a deterrent for future behavioral problems.
• A suspension is one of four indicators that point to an increased likelihood a student will not graduate from high school.9 The Council of State governments 1
1Rausch, M. Karega, and Skiba, Russell J. “Discipline, Disability, and Race: Disproportionality in Indiana Schools.” Center for Evaluation & Education Policy. Volume 4, Number 10, Fall 2006.
2Losen, Daniel J. and Skiba, Russell. “Suspended Education: Urban Middle Schools in Crisis.” http://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/downloads/publication/Suspended_Education.pdf
3Ibid.
4Ibid.
5Ibid.
6 Center for Evaluation & Education Policy.
7Ibid.
8Rausch, M. Karega, and Skiba, Russell J. “The Academic Cost of Discipline: The Relationship Between Suspension/Expulsion and School Achievement.” Center for Evaluation & Education Policy.
9 American Youth Policy Forum. “Improving the Transition from Middle Grades to High Schools: The Role of Early Warning Indicators.” Jan. 25, 2008. http://www.aypf.org/forumbriefs/2008/fb012508.htm
http://knowledgecenter.csg.org/kc/system/files/CR_FF_Zero_Tolerance_0.pdf

Moi wrote in Inappropriate discipline: The first step on the road to education failure:

Joan Gausted of the University of Oregon has an excellent article in Eric Digest 78, School Discipline:

School discipline has two main goals: (1) ensure the safety of staff and students, and (2) create an environment conducive to learning. Serious student misconduct involving violent or criminal behavior defeats these goals and often makes headlines in the process. However, the commonest discipline problems involve noncriminal student behavior (Moles 1989).

The issue for schools is how to maintain order, yet deal with noncriminal student behavior and keep children in school.

Alan Schwartz wrote a provocative article in the New York Times about a longitudinal study of discipline conducted in Texas. In School Discipline Study Raises Fresh Questions Schwartz reports:

Raising new questions about the effectiveness of school discipline, a report scheduled for release on Tuesday found that 31 percent of Texas students were suspended off campus or expelled at least once during their years in middle and high school — at an average of almost four times apiece. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/19/education/19discipline.html?_r=1&hpw

Donna St. George wrote a Washington Post article which elaborates on the Texas study.

In the article, Study shows wide varieties in discipline methods among very similar schools, St. George reports:

The report, released Tuesday, challenges a common misperception that the only way schools can manage behavior is through suspension, said Michael D. Thompson, a co-author of the report, done by the Council of State Governments Justice Center and Texas A&M University’s Public Policy Research Institute. “The bottom line is that schools can get different outcomes with very similar student bodies,” he said. “School administrators and school superintendents and teachers can have a dramatic impact….”
The results showed that suspension or expulsion greatly increased a student’s risk of being held back a grade, dropping out or landing in the juvenile justice system. Such ideas have been probed in other research, but not with such a large population and across a lengthy period, experts said. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/study-exposes-some-some-myths-about-school-discipline/2011/07/18/gIQAV0sZMI_story.html?wpisrc=emailtoafriend

Family First Aid has a good discussion about the types of behavior problems that result in suspension or expulsion. Dore Francis has a guide, which lists what parents should do if their child is suspended. The guide gives detailed instructions to these steps and other steps. Francis also lists what questions to ask after meeting with school officials. https://drwilda.com/2011/12/13/inappropriate-discipline-the-first-step-on-the-road-to-education-failure/

Lizette Alvarez reported in the New York Times article, Seeing the Toll, Schools Revise Zero Tolerance:

Rather than push children out of school, districts like Broward are now doing the opposite: choosing to keep lawbreaking students in school, away from trouble on the streets, and offering them counseling and other assistance aimed at changing behavior.
These alternative efforts are increasingly supported, sometimes even led, by state juvenile justice directors, judges and police officers.
In Broward, which had more than 1,000 arrests in the 2011 school year, the school district entered into a wide-ranging agreement last month with local law enforcement, the juvenile justice department and civil rights groups like the N.A.A.C.P. to overhaul its disciplinary policies and de-emphasize punishment.
Some states, prodded by parents and student groups, are similarly moving to change the laws; in 2009, Florida amended its laws to allow school administrators greater discretion in disciplining students.
“A knee-jerk reaction for minor offenses, suspending and expelling students, this is not the business we should be in,” said Robert W. Runcie, the Broward County Schools superintendent, who took the job in late 2011. “We are not accepting that we need to have hundreds of students getting arrested and getting records that impact their lifelong chances to get a job, go into the military, get financial aid.”
Nationwide, more than 70 percent of students involved in arrests or referrals to court are black or Hispanic, according to federal data.
“What you see is the beginning of a national trend here,” said Michael Thompson, the director of the Council of State Governments Justice Center. “Everybody recognizes right now that if we want to really find ways to close the achievement gap, we are really going to need to look at the huge number of kids being removed from school campuses who are not receiving any classroom time.”
Pressure to change has come from the Obama administration, too. Beginning in 2009, the Department of Justice and the Department of Education aggressively began to encourage schools to think twice before arresting and pushing children out of school. In some cases, as in Meridian, Miss., the federal government has sued to force change in schools.
Some view the shift as politically driven and worry that the pendulum may swing too far in the other direction. Ken Trump, a school security consultant, said that while existing policies are at times misused by school staffs and officers, the policies mostly work well, offering schools the right amount of discretion.
“It’s a political movement by civil rights organizations that have targeted school police,” Mr. Trump said. “If you politicize this on either side, it’s not going to help on the front lines.”
Supporters, though, emphasize the flexibility in these new policies and stress that they do not apply to students who commit felonies or pose a danger….
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/03/education/seeing-the-toll-schools-revisit-zero-tolerance.html?ref=education&_r=0

The whole child approach is useful in keeping many children in school.

Moi wrote in The ‘whole child’ approach to education: Many children do not have a positive education experience in the education system for a variety of reasons. Many educators are advocating for the “whole child” approach to increase the number of children who have a positive experience in the education process. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/10/the-whole-child-approach-to-education/

In order to ensure that ALL children have a basic education, we must take a comprehensive approach to learning.

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

See:

Education Law Center http://www.edlawcenter.org/ELCPublic/StudentRights/StudentDiscipline.htm

Discipline In Schools: What Works and What Doesn’t? http://www.eduguide.org/article/discipline-in-school-what-works-and-what-doesnt

Justice for Children and Youth has a pamphlet -I’m being expelled from school – what are my rights? http://www.jfcy.org/pamphlets.html

Related:

Report: Black students more likely to be suspended https://drwilda.com/2012/08/07/report-black-students-more-likely-to-be-suspended/

Johns Hopkins study finds ‘Positive Behavior Intervention’ improves student behavior https://drwilda.com/2012/10/22/johns-hopkins-study-finds-positive-behavior-intervention-improves-student-behavior/

Pre-kindergarten programs help at-risk students prepare for school https://drwilda.com/2012/07/16/pre-kindergarten-programs-help-at-risk-students-prepare-for-school/

A strategy to reduce school suspensions: ‘School Wide Positive Behavior Support’ https://drwilda.com/2012/07/01/a-strategy-to-reduce-school-suspensions-school-wide-positive-behavior-support/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

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https://drwilda.com/

Wisconsin study: Disruptive students disrupt the education process

10 Apr

Moi wrote in Alternative discipline: Helping disruptive children stay in school:

Moi wrote in Inappropriate discipline: The first step on the road to education failure:

Joan Gausted of the University of Oregon has an excellent article in Eric Digest 78, School Discipline

School discipline has two main goals: (1) ensure the safety of staff and students, and (2) create an environment conducive to learning. Serious student misconduct involving violent or criminal behavior defeats these goals and often makes headlines in the process. However, the commonest discipline problems involve noncriminal student behavior (Moles 1989).

The issue for schools is how to maintain order, yet deal with noncriminal student behavior and keep children in school. https://drwilda.com/2012/11/12/alternative-discipline-helping-disruptive-children-stay-in-school/

Julia Lawrence writes in the Education News article, Study Quantifies Cost of Disruptive Students, Recs Online Schools:

A study from the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute has finally quantified the impact that disruptive students have on their classmates’ academic achievement. By looking at differences in grades on standardized test scores between districts that high suspension rates and low ones, the study was able to conclude that lowering the suspension rates by just 5% would translate to a 3.5% gain in the number of students proficient in reading and a full 5% in rates of proficiency on mathematics.

WPRI Research Director Mike Ford called the gains statistically significant and said that the study is only one of a number that shows what schools can achieve by removing disruptive elements from the classroom. http://www.educationnews.org/online-schools/study-quantifies-cost-of-disruptive-students-recs-online-schools/

Here is the press release:

Wisconsin Policy Research Institute: Classroom disruption significantly hurting student achievement
4/9/2013

P.O. Box 382 Hartland, WI
(262) 367-9940
E-mail: wpri@wpri.org • Internet: http://www.wpri.org

CONTACT: WPRI Research Director Mike Ford, 414-803-2162

WPRI study: Classroom disruption significantly hurting student achievement Study recommends increased use of virtual schools and character education

A new study by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute has, for the first time, quantified the extent to which disruptive students are hindering reading and math achievement in many Wisconsin classrooms.

Over 48,000 students were suspended from Wisconsin public schools in 2011 alone, and many of them were suspended more than once. Four districts in the state – Bayfield, Beloit, Racine and Milwaukee – had suspension rates above 12 percent in 2011.

Half of the 424 districts in Wisconsin, meanwhile, had suspension rates over 1.7 percent. In those districts, decreasing the suspension rates – and the disruptive behavior that drives them – by just five percent would increase the number of students proficient in reading by 3.5 percentage points and the number of students proficient in math by almost five percentage points, according to the study conducted by WPRI Research Director Mike Ford.

“These gains are both statistically and substantively significant,” said Ford. “There is strong evidence that removing disruptive students from the classroom is a viable strategy for raising academic achievement.”

Disruptive students, like other children, have a right to a public education. But, Ford points out, a building that is plagued with disorderly students forces teachers to devote time to activities unrelated to learning and distracts classmates.

“Policymakers often focus on reforms with big pricetags, like small class sizes. We overlook another, less expensive route to higher achievement: creating more hospitable teaching and learning environments by better addressing disruptive behavior and/or removing students causing it,” said Ford.

The study, The Impact of Disruptive Students in Wisconsin School Districts, recommends that chronically disruptive students be removed from classrooms and enrolled in a statewide virtual school created specifically for them. The virtual school could be hosted by a district or districts willing to enroll pupils via the state’s open-enrollment program. Students enrolled in such a school could be provided with both a computer and an Internet connection. They would continue to have the opportunity to learn, but would no longer be a detriment to the education of their classmates.

The study also recommends that Wisconsin schools increase the use of character education, which encourages the development of traits and values such as respect, responsibility, honesty, fairness and caring.

A copy of the study is available at http://www.wpri.org . The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, established in 1987, is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit think tank working to engage Wisconsinites in discussions and timely action on key public policy issues critical to the state’s future.

Here is a portion of the executive summary:

WPRI Report
Volume 26, No. 5 April, 2013

Executive Summary

In 2010-2011, more than 48,000 Wisconsin students were suspended.  The disruptive behavior leading to these suspensions is detrimental to teachers, school cultures, and ultimately, student learning.  Reducing suspension rates in Wisconsin school districts with high numbers of disruptive pupils can substantially increase achievement levels in those districts.  An analysis of suspension rates in Wisconsin shows that decreasing those rates by five percentage points would yield an almost five percentage point increase in math proficiency, and a three and one-half percentage point increase in reading proficiency on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam.

In other words, reducing disruptive behavior can yield substantial achievement gains for Wisconsin pupils. 

This report reviews existing research on the link between student disruption and academic achievement, reviews current Wisconsin statues and practices regarding student behavior, includes comments from a discussion with teachers from the state’s largest school district, and uses data from both the Department of Public Instruction and from the National Center for Education Statistics to test several hypotheses. The finding that student behavior affects student achievement at the school district level is both intuitive and well-supported by evidence.

The findings are particularly interesting because the other factors that significantly affect achievement in Wisconsin districts, such as the socioeconomic makeup of the student population, cannot be readily addressed in the ways that student behavior can.

Ultimately, this report concludes that Wisconsin must honor its commitment to make a public education available to all of its students, but must not do so at the expense of the vast majority of pupils who do not engage in disruptive behaviors.  Similarly, teachers must be supported and allowed to teach in an environment where their focus can be on student learning, not discipline. 

The formal recommendations of this report include supporting and strengthening ongoing efforts to instruct teachers on how to deal with problem students, and state efforts to bring evidence-supported strategies for disruptive students to Wisconsin schools.  In addition, strategies should be pursued to ensure that chronically disruptive pupils are permanently removed from regular classrooms, perhaps with an increased use of virtual schools. Perhaps most important, Wisconsin must pay greater attention to this issue because doing so can improve student outcomes as well as the overall work and learning environment of teachers and students. 

Disruptive students in Wisconsin classrooms make it difficult for other students to learn and difficult for teachers to teach.  Addressing this problem can have a very real and positive effect on student performance…. http://www.wpri.org/Reports/Volume26/Vol26No5/Vol26No5.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheWisconsinPolicyResearchInstitute+%28The+Wisconsin+Policy+Research+Institute%29

Moi wrote in The ‘whole child’ approach to education: Many children do not have a positive education experience in the education system for a variety of reasons. Many educators are advocating for the “whole child” approach to increase the number of children who have a positive experience in the education process. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/10/the-whole-child-approach-to-education/

In order to ensure that ALL children have a basic education, we must take a comprehensive approach to learning.

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

See:

Education Law Center

Discipline In Schools: What Works and What Doesn’t?

Justice for Children and Youth has a pamphlet                                       I’m being expelled from school – what are my rights?

Related:

Report: Black students more likely to be suspended               https://drwilda.com/2012/08/07/report-black-students-more-likely-to-be-suspended/

Johns Hopkins study finds ‘Positive Behavior Intervention’ improves student behavior                                                                          https://drwilda.com/2012/10/22/johns-hopkins-study-finds-positive-behavior-intervention-improves-student-behavior/

Pre-kindergarten programs help at-risk students prepare for school  https://drwilda.com/2012/07/16/pre-kindergarten-programs-help-at-risk-students-prepare-for-school/

A strategy to reduce school suspensions: ‘School Wide Positive Behavior Support’                                                                         https://drwilda.com/2012/07/01/a-strategy-to-reduce-school-suspensions-school-wide-positive-behavior-support/

Where information leads to Hope. ©                  Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©                      http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                             http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                                                    https://drwilda.com/

Alternative discipline: Helping disruptive children stay in school

12 Nov

Moi wrote in Inappropriate discipline: The first step on the road to education failure:

Joan Gausted of the University of Oregon has an excellent article in Eric Digest 78, School Discipline

School discipline has two main goals: (1) ensure the safety of staff and students, and (2) create an environment conducive to learning. Serious student misconduct involving violent or criminal behavior defeats these goals and often makes headlines in the process. However, the commonest discipline problems involve noncriminal student behavior (Moles 1989).

The issue for schools is how to maintain order, yet deal with noncriminal student behavior and keep children in school.

Alan Schwartz has a provocative article in the New York Times about a longitudinal study of discipline conducted in Texas. In School Discipline Study Raises Fresh Questions  Schwartz reports:

Raising new questions about the effectiveness of school discipline, a report scheduled for release on Tuesday found that 31 percent of Texas students were suspended off campus or expelled at least once during their years in middle and high school — at an average of almost four times apiece.

Donna St. George has written a Washington Post article which elaborates on the Texas study.

In the article, Study shows wide varieties in discipline methods among very similar schools, St. George reports:

The report, released Tuesday, challenges a common misperception that the only way schools can manage behavior is through suspension, said Michael D. Thompson, a co-author of the report, done by the Council of State Governments Justice Center and Texas A&M University’s Public Policy Research Institute. “The bottom line is that schools can get different outcomes with very similar student bodies,” he said. “School administrators and school superintendents and teachers can have a dramatic impact….”

The results showed that suspension or expulsion greatly increased a student’s risk of being held back a grade, dropping out or landing in the juvenile justice system. Such ideas have been probed in other research, but not with such a large population and across a lengthy period, experts said. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/study-exposes-some-some-myths-about-school-discipline/2011/07/18/gIQAV0sZMI_story.html?wpisrc=emailtoafriend

Family First Aid has a good discussion about the types of behavior problems that result in suspension or expulsion.  Dore Francis has a guide, which lists what parents should do if their child is suspended. The guide gives detailed instructions to these steps and other steps. Francis also lists what questions to ask after meeting with school officials. https://drwilda.com/2011/12/13/inappropriate-discipline-the-first-step-on-the-road-to-education-failure/

Nirvi Shah has written the interesting Education Week report, Suspended in School: Punished But Still Learning about alternative discipline methods:

Some of the students at Success Academy here are doing International Baccalaureate-level work. Most of the classes have just five or six students. And every nine weeks, groups of students are required to make major presentations to their classmates and hand in thick binders full of even more- detailed reports.

But this Baltimore public high school isn’t for elite students. Admission depends on whether students have done something so serious a regular district school won’t have them anymore: assaulting classmates or staff members, possessing or distributing drugs, or wielding weapons.

The school, serving as many as 100 students at a time, costs more than $1.2 million a year to run, but the district, which houses the program at its headquarters, says keeping students learning and in school—somewhere—while they are serving out a suspension or have been kicked out of their own schools is far less expensive than the alternative.

“The idea of children being out of school makes no sense,” said Karen Webber-Ndour, Baltimore’s executive director of the office of student support and safety. But at the same time, the district acknowledges that students may have to leave their home school for some offenses.

School-based discipline options like this one are being tried in schools nationwide as a substitute for punishments that force students out of school, which have been shown to disproportionately affect black, Latino, and male students and those with disabilities.

While in-school suspension may be an old standby, schools seem to be putting their own stamp on it. Whether those spaces are staffed by certified teachers or aides varies, and some schools don’t have classroom space to spare for something that might be heavily used one day and not at all the next. Other disciplinary configurations include Saturday classes, evening programs, and lunchtime interventions. In some cases, behavioral-health specialists are available on demand to work with students, keeping them in school rather than suspending them. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/11/07/11inschool_ep.h32.html?tkn=OQXF4T7wRzd%2BfDTAENRdHmICQyIk7%2FNisjS1&cmp=clp-edweek&intc=es

The whole child approach is useful in keeping many children in school.

Moi wrote in The ‘whole child’ approach to education: Many children do not have a positive education experience in the education system for a variety of reasons. Many educators are advocating for the “whole child” approach to increase the number of children who have a positive experience in the education process. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/10/the-whole-child-approach-to-education/

In order to ensure that ALL children have a basic education, we must take a comprehensive approach to learning.

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

See:

Education Law Center

Discipline In Schools: What Works and What Doesn’t?

Justice for Children and Youth has a pamphlet I’m being expelled from school – what are my rights?

Related:

Report: Black students more likely to be suspended https://drwilda.com/2012/08/07/report-black-students-more-likely-to-be-suspended/

Johns Hopkins study finds ‘Positive Behavior Intervention’ improves student behavior                                                   https://drwilda.com/2012/10/22/johns-hopkins-study-finds-positive-behavior-intervention-improves-student-behavior/

Pre-kindergarten programs help at-risk students prepare for school                                                                                    http://drwilda.com/2012/07/16/pre-kindergarten-programs-help-at-risk-students-prepare-for-school/

A strategy to reduce school suspensions: ‘School Wide Positive Behavior Support’                                                     https://drwilda.com/2012/07/01/a-strategy-to-reduce-school-suspensions-school-wide-positive-behavior-support/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART © http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                  http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                                 https://drwilda.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common sense leaving education: 6-year-old branded with sexual assailant label

26 Jan

In Inappropriate discipline: The first step on the road to education failure, moi said:

Joan Gausted of the University of Oregon has an excellent article in Eric Digest 78, School Discipline

School discipline has two main goals: (1) ensure the safety of staff and students, and (2) create an environment conducive to learning. Serious student misconduct involving violent or criminal behavior defeats these goals and often makes headlines in the process. However, the commonest discipline problems involve noncriminal student behavior (Moles 1989).The issue for schools is how to maintain order, yet deal with noncriminal student behavior and keep children in school.

Alan Schwartz has a provocative article in the New York Times about a longitudinal study of discipline conducted in Texas. In School Discipline Study Raises FreshQuestions  https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/inappropriate-discipline-the-first-step-on-the-road-to-education-failure/

The New York Times has a report about a case from West Contra Costa Unified School District which is an example of the question of whether common sense has left education.

Scott James reports in the New York Times article, A Touch During Recess, and Reaction Is Swift:

It started as schoolyard roughhousing during recess, with one boy’s hand allegedly touching the upper thigh, or perhaps the groin, of another. There were no reported witnesses, and it remains unclear if anyone complained, but the principal immediately suspended the student, placing the incident on the boy’s record as a case of “sexual assault.” The children involved were first graders — the purported assailant just 6.

It’s really overzealous,” Levina Subrata, the accused boy’s mother (they do not share the same last name), said of the incident last month at Lupine Hills Elementary, a public school in Hercules. “They were playing tag. There’s no intent to do any sort of sexual assault.”

The school’s principal, Cynthia Taylor, did not respond to an interview request. Marin Trujillo, a spokesman for the West Contra Costa Unified School District, which includes Hercules, said officials were barred from speaking about student and personnel matters. However, he added, “We must take any allegation of assault involving a child very seriously.”

Ms. Subrata provided a copy of the suspension notice, which shows what appears to be the principal’s signature and the conclusion: “Committed or attempted to commit a sexual assault or sexual battery.”

That such adult criminal intent was applied to a matter involving young children has caused a stir in this tidy East Bay suburb, a place so orderly that traffic signals halt every car at every light.

Ms. Subrata, fearful that being branded with a sex offense could ruin her son’s future, sought advice via the Berkeley Parents Network, a popular online forum for area families. An avalanche of vitriol followed….

Experts said such incidents are not isolated, but rather part of an emerging national trend. A similar case caused a sensation in Boston in November when a 7-year-old faced sexual harassment charges for kicking another boy his age in the groin during a fight.

Due to heightened concerns over bullying in recent years — spurred by a public awareness campaign following several child suicides — school administrators now feel pressure to act boldly in cases where students might face harassment.

Frederick M. Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative policy institute, said the antibullying efforts are well intentioned, but, “the policies being adopted set forth pretty strong rules regarding categories of behavior,” he said. “This means there’s less room, and more risk, for principals who would make sensible accommodations based on student age and the circumstances in question.”

Indeed, calling a matter “sexual” when a first-grader is involved seems at odds with California statutes that indicate that such intent can only be applied to children who are in fourth grade or older.

Stuart Lustig, a board-certified child psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, said that in general it is quite common, normal even, for young children to touch each other’s genital areas. “It’s curiosity,” he said. “It’s not sexual in the adult sense.”

Dr. Lustig added that it would only become a concern if a young child does not stop when told the behavior is inappropriate. However, he said he had heard of cases where schools have acted immediately to discipline youngsters, even over a single schoolyard kiss. “Schools can sometimes respond very strongly because of the legal environment,” he said.

Mr. Hess predicted that questionable actions by schools in such cases would soon become a significant education concern. “We’re putting educators in an untenable position,” he said. “They’re being asked to squelch out every iota of bad behavior, but without overreacting or stomping on childhood.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/27/education/boy-6-suspended-in-sexual-assault-case-at-elementary-school.html?ref=education

The Council of State Governments (CGS) released a ground breaking report of discipline in Texas. This report contains not only valuable information, but raises several questions.

In the press release, CSG Justice Center Releases New Report on How School Discipline Relates to Academic and Juvenile Justice Outcomes, the CSG reports:

In an unprecedented study of nearly 1 million Texas public secondary school students followed for more than six years, nearly 60 percent were suspended or expelled, according to a report released today by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center in partnership with the Public Policy Research Institute of Texas A&M University.

Of the nearly 1 million public secondary school students studied, about 15 percent were suspended or expelled 11 times or more; nearly half of these students with 11 or more disciplinary actions were involved in the juvenile justice system. 

  • Only three percent of the disciplinary actions were for conduct in which state law mandated suspensions and expulsions; the rest were made at the discretion of school officials primarily in response to violations of local schools’ conduct codes. 
  • African-American students and those with particular educational disabilities were disproportionately disciplined for discretionary actions. 
  • Repeated suspensions and expulsions predicted poor academic outcomes. Only 40 percent of students disciplined 11 times or more graduated from high school during the study period, and 31 percent of students disciplined one or more times repeated their grade at least once. 
  • Schools that had similar characteristics, including the racial composition and economic status of the student body, varied greatly in how frequently they suspended or expelled students.

http://knowledgecenter.csg.org/drupal/content/csg-justice-center-releases-new-report-how-school-discipline-relates-academic-and-juvenile-j

  Download the full report in PDF:  “Breaking Schools’ Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement

Dore Francis has a guide, which lists what parents should do if their child is suspended. The guide gives detailed instructions to these steps and other steps.

Get the Facts

1.        Immediately contact the school and request: 1) a copy of the student’s school records, including records for attendance, grades, and any past discipline; 2) a copy of any administrator’s, teacher’s, or student’s statements about the charge/incident; and 3) a copy of the school’s or district’s disciplinary policies in writing (if they have not as yet been provided to you). Review these materials and note anything you want to ask your child or the school about that may include issues relevant to the current situation.

2.        School administrators must provide students with notice of the charges against them, the basis for the charge, and an opportunity to tell his/her side of the story.

3.        Talk with your son or daughter. Ask him/her to tell you (or even better to write out) exactly what happened as soon as possible so you have a clear understanding of the details related to the incident. Make sure he/she is being honest about what happened.

Meet with School Officials

1.        Call the principal or assistant principal who gave the suspension and ask for a face-to-face meeting at a time that is convenient for you. Ask for whatever accommodation you need to enable you to participate fully in the meeting, for example, if you need to meet in the evening or need a translator if you do not speak English. There are five good reasons to request and attend a face-to-face meeting: to learn more of the facts around the incident, to verify that your child is being treated fairly, to ensure that your child is taking responsibility for his/her actions, to ensure that your child’s educational progress is not adversely affected, and to learn of any opportunities or services that may help your child, such as counseling or other types of social, educational, or health services.

2.        Do not go alone to the meeting. Take someone with you who can serve as an advocate and provide you with support or make you feel more comfortable. This might be a friend, neighbor, community service agency representative, or clergy. Make sure that the school official is informed that this person will be present at the meeting.

3.        Approach the meeting with an open mind and a firm commitment not to argue or raise your voice.

4.        Write down any questions you have before the meeting and bring your list with you so you can ask your questions and have them answered at the meeting.

Questions that parents may want to ask about the situation:

1.        What rule did my child break? May I see this rule in writing? What did my child do to break the rule?

2.        What is the normal punishment for breaking this rule? Is there a different punishment for the first, second, or third violation of this rule? Are these things in writing?

3.        Why is my child receiving extra punishment?

4.        Where was my child when this happened? Who was the teacher in charge? Where was the teacher when the incident happened?

5.        What other students or employees were around when this happened? What are their accounts of the incident?

6.        Were other students involved in this incident? What punishment did the other students receive? Why is their punishment different?

7.        Exactly what did each person do? Exactly what did each person say?

8.        Could the teacher have handled this differently?

9.        Has my child had similar problems before? Is this documented in writing?

10.     Will this punishment cause my child to fail a class or be held back?

11.     Can my child make up his schoolwork and tests?

12.     What can the school do to help my child and avoid this problem in the future? For example, may my child change his seat in class or be transferred to a different class? 

Francis has this advice if you take your son or daughter to meet with school officials.

           Take your son/daughter to the meeting with you if he/she can act respectfully and take responsibility for his/her actions. He/she must admit if he/she was wrong and violated a school rule.

Do not admit wrongdoing and do not let your son/daughter admit wrongdoing unless it is true.

If your son or daughter admits wrongdoing, consider or ask what can be done to “make things right.” For example, is an apology to a teacher or another student in order, or is there some other action your son or daughter may take to correct or make amends for the situation? If so, have your son or daughter follow through on this.

Francis also lists what questions to ask after meeting with school officials.

The focus at this point should be how best to address the behavior issues that could result in a disciplinary action. Discipline should be the last resort.

See:

Education Law Center

Discipline In Schools: What Works and What Doesn’t?

Justice for Children and Youth has a pamphlet I’m being expelled from school – what are my rights?

Alternatives to Suspension

http://www.childandfamilypolicy.duke.edu/pdfs/familyimpact/2010/Alternatives_to_Suspension.pdf

Fourth Grader Suspended Over ‘Kick Me’ Sign Prank http://abcnews.go.com/US/elementary-school-student-suspended-kick-sign-prank-nyc/story?id=12950659#.TyJSX4HfW-c

School Suspension for a Crush? Not Cute

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stacia-l-brown/school-suspension-cute_b_1132401.html

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

 

Inappropriate discipline: The first step on the road to education failure

13 Dec

One of the causalities of the decline and death of newspapers is the decline in investigative journalism. When the Seattle PI was still a print publication in 2001, they published a series of articles about discipline in the Seattle Public Schools. At that time, the list of behaviors included:

                                              1.   Disruptive conduct

                                              2.   Fighting

                                              3.   Disobedience

                                              4. .Assault

                                              5. Rule-breaking

                                              6. Alcohol/drugs

                                              7. Theft

                                              8. Trespass

                                              9.   Smoking

                                              10. Weapons

When this report was written, African American students were suspended at a higher rate than other students. The great thing about this piece of journalism was the reporters examined assumptions about what could be causing the disparity in expulsions. The assumptions about why African American students are disciplined and the statistical reality often do not provide clear-cut answers. The Seattle PI followed the report with a 2006 Update and the disparity issue remained. Perhaps, Dr. Bill Cosby is on to something with his crusade to ask tough questions about whether a “hip hop” culture is conducive to promoting success values in a population who must survive in the dominant culture. Debates about what cultural norms are healthy and should prevail are not useful to a child who is facing a suspension or expulsion and who must deal with that reality. It is imperative that children stay in school and receive a diploma or receive sufficient skills to allow them to prepare for a GED. If a child is facing a suspension or expulsion, the parent or guardian has to advocate for the child and the future placement and follow-up treatment for the child. The hard questions about placement in an education setting center on student behavior and whether the behavior of the individual child is so disruptive that the child must be removed from the school either for a period of time or permanently.

Does Hip-Hop Culture Affect Student Behavior?

Gosa and Young’s case study about the oppositional culture of hip-hop is a good description of the possible impact of a certain genre of music on the educational values of the young listeners.

Given the prominent, yet controversial theory of oppositional culture used to explain the poor academic achievement of black youth and recent concerns that hip-hop is leading black youth to adopt anti-school attitudes, we examine the construction of oppositional culture in hip-hop music. Through a qualitative case of song lyrics (n=250) from two of hip-hop’s most influential artists – “conscious” rapper Kanye West and “gangster” rapper Tupac Skakur, we find oppositional culture in both artist’s lyrics. However, our analysis reveals important differences in how the two artists describe the role of schooling in adult success, relationships with teachers and schools, and how education is related to authentic black male identity. Our findings suggest a need for reexamining the notion that oppositional culture means school resistance.

The study gives a good description of oppositional culture, but it is overly optimistic about the role of the market place in promoting the basest values for a buck.

Lest one think that hip-hop culture is simply the province of thugs and low- income urban youth. Think again, there are many attempts to market a stylized version of the culture. A 1996 American Demographics article describes the marketing used to cross-over hip-hop culture into the mainstream.

Many of the hottest trends in teenage music, language, and fashion start in America’s inner cities, then quickly spread to suburbs. Targeting urban teens has put some companies on the map with the larger mainstream market. But companies need an education in hip-hop culture to avoid costly mistakes.

The Scene: Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, a bastion of the white East Coast establishment. A teenaged boy saunters down the street, his gait and attitude embodying adolescent rebellion. Baggy jeans sag atop over-designed sneakers, gold hoops adorn both ears, and a baseball cap shields his eyes. On his chest, a Tommy Hilfiger shirt sports the designer’s distinctive pairing of blue, red, and white rectangles.

Four years ago, this outfit would have been unimaginable to this cool teen; only his clean-cut, country-club peers sported Hilfiger clothes. What linked the previously preppy Hilfiger to jeans so low-slung they seem to defy gravity? To a large extent, the answer lies 200 miles southwest, in the oversized personage of Brooklyn’s Biggie Smalls, an admitted ex-drug dealer turned rapper.

Over the past few years, Smalls and other hip-hop stars have become a crucial part of Hilfiger’s open attempt to tap into the urban youth market. In exchange for giving artists free wardrobes, Hilfiger found its name mentioned in both the rhyming verses of rap songs and their “shout-out” lyrics, in which rap artists chant out thanks to friends and sponsors for their support.

For Tommy Hilfiger and other brands, the result is de facto product placement. The September 1996 issue of Rolling Stone magazine featured the rap group The Fugees, with the men prominently sporting the Tommy Hilfiger logo. In February 1996, Hilfiger even used a pair of rap stars as runway models: horror-core rapper Method Man and muscular bad-boy Treach of Naughty by Nature.

Suburban normed or middle class youth may dabble in hip-hop culture, but they have a “recovery period.” The “recovery period” for suburban youth means moving from deviant norms, which preclude success into mainstream norms, which often promote success. Suburban children often have parental and peer social pressure to move them to the mainstream. Robert Downey, Jr., the once troubled actor is not necessarily an example of hip-hop culture, but he is an example of the process of “recovery” moving an individual back into the mainstream. Children of color and low-income children often do not get the chance to “recover” and move into mainstream norms. The next movement for them after a suspension or expulsion is often the criminal justice system

Joan Gausted of the University of Oregon has an excellent article in Eric Digest 78, School Discipline

School discipline has two main goals: (1) ensure the safety of staff and students, and (2) create an environment conducive to learning. Serious student misconduct involving violent or criminal behavior defeats these goals and often makes headlines in the process. However, the commonest discipline problems involve noncriminal student behavior (Moles 1989).

The issue for schools is how to maintain order, yet deal with noncriminal student behavior and keep children in school.

Alan Schwartz has a provocative article in the New York Times about a longitudinal study of discipline conducted in Texas. In School Discipline Study Raises Fresh Questions  Schwartz reports:

Raising new questions about the effectiveness of school discipline, a report scheduled for release on Tuesday found that 31 percent of Texas students were suspended off campus or expelled at least once during their years in middle and high school — at an average of almost four times apiece.

Donna St. George has written a Washington Post article which elaborates on the Texas study.

In the article, Study shows wide varieties in discipline methods among very similar schools, St. George reports:

The report, released Tuesday, challenges a common misperception that the only way schools can manage behavior is through suspension, said Michael D. Thompson, a co-author of the report, done by the Council of State Governments Justice Center and Texas A&M University’s Public Policy Research Institute. “The bottom line is that schools can get different outcomes with very similar student bodies,” he said. “School administrators and school superintendents and teachers can have a dramatic impact….”

The results showed that suspension or expulsion greatly increased a student’s risk of being held back a grade, dropping out or landing in the juvenile justice system. Such ideas have been probed in other research, but not with such a large population and across a lengthy period, experts said. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/study-exposes-some-some-myths-about-school-discipline/2011/07/18/gIQAV0sZMI_story.html?wpisrc=emailtoafriend

Family First Aid has a good discussion about the types of behavior problems that result in suspension or expulsion.  Dore Francis has a guide, which lists what parents should do if their child is suspended. The guide gives detailed instructions to these steps and other steps. Francis also lists what questions to ask after meeting with school officials.

Additionally, Family First Aid discusses the education questions a parent or guardian should ask when their child has been permanently excluded from a school setting because of behavior problems.

What options are there now that your teen has been expelled?

– Home School? Yes, your teen may get the academics, the grades, and the knowledge. But he will not learn to interact with others in a positive manner, and the original problem still exists.

– Alternative School? The focus at an alternative school is to finish the coursework for graduation. There is no focus on the original problem of why the student could not succeed socially in the regular school setting and again, the original problem still exists.

– Specialty School? There are several different kinds of specialty schools and programs. There are wilderness programs “boot camps” military schools, and religious schools. Some include academics and some do not. Some programs are an intense “wake up call” that last about a month, and others are long term. Some focus only on the child and some involve the entire family in the healing process.

If your child has a behavior disorder, one month of intense “wake up” won’t change anything. It also won’t change the peer group he has or his involvement with drugs and/or weapons.

The focus at this point should be how best to address the behavior issues that resulted in the disciplinary action. It is important to contact the district to find out what types of resources are available to assist the student in overcoming their challenges. Many children have behavior problems because they are not in the correct education placement. Often, moving the child to a different education setting is the beginning of dealing with the challenges they face.

See:

Education Law Center

Discipline In Schools: What Works and What Doesn’t?

Justice for Children and Youth has a pamphlet I’m being expelled from school – what are my rights?

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©