Suspended from school: Road to nowhere

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 5 2013 8:00 a.m. MST

"Schools may actually encourage dropouts in response to pressures from test-based accountability regimes such as the No Child Left Behind Act, which create incentives to push out low-performing students to boost overall test scores."

A story at the Teach Safe Schools website takes the position that problem behavior at school escalates when students lack the skills necessary to behaving appropriately.

"Skills such as academic competence, anger management, impulse control, conflict resolution, and social problem-solving are important for effective participation in the academic environment," the story said. "When larger and larger groups of students lack one or more of these competencies, the potential for escalating problem behavior increases."

Teach Safe Schools calls for school administrators to consult with teachers who make large numbers of discipline referrals and work with them on improving classroom management skills. Assessing management strategies in schools lunchrooms, commons and hallways is also recommended.

To avoid suspensions except in extreme circumstances, the following ordered strategies are recommended:

Phone call to parents and/or a parent conference

After school or lunch detention

Co-curricular activity suspension (sports or clubs)

Restitution (financial or social, such as a written apology)

Community service around the school

School-based or home-school contingency contract

Saturday school

Education.com gives recommendations for dealing effectively with severe discipline problems that do warrant removing a student from the school campus.

"A 'best practices' situation allows for the availability of an interim off-site alternative placement location to which a student can be referred immediately," the report said. "This option also reduces the possibility that the student will be sent home to an unsupervised environment where additional problems may occur."

From the interim site, responses can be considered, such as in-school suspension or a an alternative school.

"If this is not available, then the administrator needs assurance that adequate parental supervision will be in place for the brief period of out-of-school suspension while behavioral plans are developed," the report said.

EMAIL: cbaker@deseretnews.com

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