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District Looks Into Resolution for 'Shockingly' High Suspension Rates

District Looks Into Resolution for 'Shockingly' High Suspension Rates

In Muskegon County public schools in Michigan, high suspension rates have led to detailed investigations to try to remedy the growing problem. Administrators are scrambling to best understand who is being suspended, why they are, and what teachers and principals can better do to manage behavior aside from keeping students out of school.

According to an investigation performed by MLive and the Muskegon Chronicle into disciplinary tactics throughout the county, in 2013-2014 alone over 6,000 students were suspended down to the Kindergarten grade level. Despite a drop in expulsions from the prior year, the youngest student to be expelled was a seven-year-old second grader for bringing a weapon to school, according to MLive.com.

"Increasingly, educators are looking for options other than kicking students out of school. When they're not in school, these students who tend to be at risk in the first place, get behind on school work. Their grades slip, they don't assimilate with the learning environment and their completion of high school is in jeopardy," the article said.

In other words, educators are looking to fix the cyclical problem of suspended children staying behind.

In order to do so, the "Muskegon Area Intermediate School District is using a $2 million grant to train school staff on various responses to behavior with the ultimate goal of reducing suspensions," the article said.

The district will use a program called STAY that is sponsored by the national juvenile justice association and is "turning to help from existing agencies: mental health, health and human services, mediation services and more" to address the issue.

"As Muskegon High School Principal Brad Perkins puts it, many are surviving in the chaos that adults have created for them. Those students live in a world where they essentially are raising themselves, with no curfew, no bed time – no rules."

Experts and Muskegon administrators believe that coordinating more with parents will help resolve lesser behavioral issues that are still important to address without removing students from instruction for periods of time via suspensions.

Administrators in Muskegon admit the process is ongoing but will continue to work to provide students with individual attention and positive reinforcement to get suspension rates down. Their problem represents an all-too-common problem faced by diverse school districts nationwide.

Read the full article here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

06/08/2015

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