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Suspension Ban Creates Stressed Teachers, Unruly Students in LAUSD; Lack of Support Blamed

Suspension Ban Creates Stressed Teachers and Unruly Students in LAUSD, Lack of Support Blamed

Many experts cite suspensions for non-violent behavior as an ineffective method of handling in-class discipline. As a result, the Los Angeles United School District has opted to ban suspensions in favor of “restorative justice,” or other methods to resolve conflicts through talking and the like.

But despite being “nationally hailed by the White House and others for its leadership in promoting more progressive school-discipline policies,” LAUSD teachers have told the Los Angeles Times that they are now dealing with unruly classrooms and no relief.

"They blame the district for failing to provide the staff and training needed to effectively shift to the new approach — and their complaints are backed up by L.A. schools Supt. Ramon Cortines,” the Times said.

Though the Unifed Teachers Los Angeles claims that teachers with appropriate support are using the new discipline measures correctly, it agrees that teachers without support systems are struggling.

To remedy this, the union told The Times it will be starting its own training for teachers to implement restorative justice effectively.

The district itself has only been able to provide training to 307 of the 900 campuses it oversees, and the Times says only a third of the district’s 181 secondary schools will be reached by counselors, "where discipline problems are the most acute.”

Perhaps most damning is the assertion from L.A. Unified veteran police officer Sylvester Wiley who says that teachers struggling with the disciplinary change are turning to police officers for help.

He told the Times that without having the option to suspend unruly students, teachers in the district are now turning to police officers to handle matters more than they ever have before.

"'Now that they can't suspend, schools want to have officers handle things, but we constantly tell them we can't do this ... Willful defiance is not a crime,’” he said, according to the article.

Certainly, it seems that teachers in under-supported schools are reaching their breaking point.

Union representative for Los Angeles Academy Middle School in South L.A. Art Lopez said in a letter obtained by the Times that teachers who have high numbers of students with discipline issues “are walking a fine line between extreme stress and a emotional meltdown.”

With support, however, the new methods of discipline have proven to be highly effective.

"At Jordan High School in Watts, for instance, suspensions have dropped to just one as of October compared with 22 during the same period last year. The school has launched a well-staffed program led by a dean and two counselors, who meet with troubled students in a designated room featuring posters offering pointers about the practice, such as speaking and listening with respect,” the article said.

This is not the first time LAUSD has faced problems with rolling-out new policy. Current Sup. Cortines blames the current issues on the typical poor effort typical from former Sup. John Deasy; Cortines compares the new disciplinary policy roll-out to the failed roll-out of the $1 billion one-to-one iPad initiative lead by Deasy.

Read the full story here.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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