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Report: 10,000 Students Suspended From D.C. Schools In Past Academic Year

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Youth advocates say that D.C. schools should employ alternatives to suspensions.
Travis Ekmark: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sayholatotravis/3796435103/
Youth advocates say that D.C. schools should employ alternatives to suspensions.

A new report has found that more than 10,000 students were suspended from D.C.'s traditional and charter public schools during the past academic year.

Eduardo Ferrer with the non profit D.C. Lawyers for Youth says students with special needs and from high poverty wards were suspended at far higher rates than their peers. There was also wide variation among schools.

"In DCPS, middle schools over 35 percent of their student body were suspended during the 2011-2012 school year and there are some schools with suspension rates at 60 percent of their student body," he says.

As for expulsions, Ferrer says charter schools account for almost all of them. "DCPS only had three and the charter schools had over 200. Amongst those even, 11 charter schools accounted for the majority of expulsions," he says.

Most suspensions, he says, did not involve injuries, weapons or drugs. "We're talking more disruptive than dangerous behavior," he says.

The report recommends using alternatives to suspensions, such as positive reinforcement, mentoring and mediation.

"When you suspend a student you make it more likely that student will be held back that year, they will be a high school dropout, that the young person will end up in the juvenile justice system," he says.

Ferrer says these alternative methods have been shown to be effective in other school districts, such as Baltimore.

District Discipline Report


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