Ending Out of School Suspensions
What's wrong with Out of School Suspensions?
There are a number of problems with this course of disciplinary action:
Students that are suspended are not receiving an education, the principal mandate of a school system.
The application of this punishment is not handed out fairly - Black students, and students with disabilities, are given out of school suspensions far in excess of other student populations.
The research is clear that the suspension does not have the desired effect on the student.
The research has shown that classmates of students that are suspended are negatively impacted by the suspension - so even if your child does not experience disciplinary actions, your child is suffering academically from these actions.
Exclusion cannot resolve the behaviors that are disruptive. A student that is home on suspension is likely to be enjoying the day off, playing video games, or doing something that is hardly punishment in anyone's mind.
So what do we do with students that are needing discipline?
The answer to this is complicated - and as with almost everything, the answer is 'it depends'. Understanding why students are disruptive is critical to supporting the student and bringing about an end to the disruptive behaviors that are causing turmoil to the level that would have caused suspension.
Teachers and staff have to think differently about discipline, and that work is happening throughout the district to educate, and give our teachers and staff the tools they need to effectively manage their learning environments.
Will there ever be suspensions?
Yes, there will be. The Medford School Committee cannot write policy that overrules the law. Laws governing all sorts of criminal actions of students remain in full effect and this policy change does not directly change such incidents. That said, finding ways to curtail disruptions and provide the supports our students need is well documented to also reduce all manner of challenges including criminal behavior.
This change will take time - and it will likely be bumpy for a while. This change will impact the culture of the district, but through sustained supports from the School Committee and sustained attention from our talented teachers and staff, this change will make our schools both safer and improve upon our core mission of providing a quality education to all students.