Monday, November 05, 2007

Student Suspensions Decrease

Suspensions in Charles County Public Schools decreased during the 2006-07 school year, according to a recent report sent to the Maryland State Department of Education. Suspensions dropped slightly from 5,866 in the 2005-06 school year to 5,662 despite an increase in student population and the opening of a new school.

Charles County Public Schools continues to implement programs to help promote positive behavior and alternatives to out-of-school suspensions. Keith Grier, director of student services, said the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program, which was introduced in 1999, has grown in the county and is working. PBIS is a voluntary state program that helps schools create better school climates, spend less time on discipline and more time on teaching and learning. There are 30 Charles County schools participating in the program, and many of them have been awarded as Exemplar by the Maryland State Department of Education.

Additionally, Grier said some schools are using a suspension diversion program coordinated through the Department of Juvenile Justice to allow students found in violation of less serious rules to work at the school over the weekend rather than be suspended. One example is student assistance in cleaning stadiums after football games. Additionally, several high schools have Saturday detention, also in lieu of suspension. Many schools use in-school suspension to allow a student to remain in school, away from the classroom, but still completing assigned work for the day. Grier said the school system is also looking at a secondary school mediation program as another intervention to reduce suspensions and time out of school.

Charles County continues to broaden its alternative programs, primarily at the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center. These programs are for students whose behavior makes it difficult for them to fit into or remain in school-based classrooms. The Stethem Center staff is piloting a prevention program at Theodore Davis, Matthew Henson and John Hanson middle schools to help students change disruptive habits so they can avoid behavior that leads to suspension.

"The goal is not to reduce suspensions, but to use data to put in place programs that help students change behaviors that lead to suspension," said Deputy Superintendent Ronald Cunningham. He added that the Student Code of Conduct is distributed at the beginning of the year to all students and parents with the expectation that they will read it and re-enforce the rules at home. Some offenses, Cunningham said, will always result in suspension, such as possession of weapon or illegal drugs or participating in gang activity at school.

Charles County Public Schools is posting suspension data as part of its ongoing efforts to address and monitor suspension rates in schools. Information posted on the website includes 2005-06 and 2006-07 end-of-year suspension figures by category as well as category definitions. The reports are also located at

Additional suspension information prior to 2006-07 is reported by the Maryland State Department of Education at:

1 comment:

im1ru2 said...

So, have the suspensions really come down or have yet again the powers to be diverted statistics in another area;

"Additionally, Grier said some schools are using a suspension diversion program coordinated through the Department of Juvenile Justice to allow students found in violation of less serious rules to work at the school over the weekend rather than be suspended."

If you read today's MD Independent you get yet another view of the overall picture. Suspensions are up even though the schools have backed off how they deal with the cell phone policies, or as it were told in the paper today, how both the students and the staff "learned" the rules better. Or did the word come down that there were way too many violations for cell phones? Anytime one area goes from over 900 to less than 200 you just have to take a look at that spike as something more than people just got better at it!

But my broader point is this. Once again the headliner is misleading in that we are being told that suspensions are down, but we are not being told how many kids are being offered "positive behavioral lesson reinforcement training 101" in-lieu of suspensions, which is obviously fudging the numbers. Because the sub-headline is that overall our suspensions are up in the more serious categories, violence “rises a bit”. Another sentence in the first paragraph of today’s MD Independent states “…but when broken down by the reason for suspending students, the numbers rose in the majority of the categories.” And if you consider that maybe, just maybe, some of the spike in cell phone violation (non) numbers from over 900 (05/06) to under 200 (07/08) our county schools would be in real trouble again this year in ALL categories, even with the “kinder, gentler, behavioral 101 Saturday paint the bleachers training”.

Today the MD Independent quoted the BOE Chair as saying “the school system is always trying to bring down the suspension numbers.” “We are always working with the faculty, the student and the parent to cut the suspension rate because we need students in school,” Wade said. Well, is that really in everyone’s best interest? When you break a rule that calls for suspension and you don't get suspended but get a "time out" what kind of a precedent are you setting? What deterrent for the next kid is there to not break that rule? And what about the chaos that kid created when he/she broke the rule to earn the suspension and disrupted everyone else's right to the best possible education? Why have the rules then in the first place? Is the rule so subjective that some kids will get suspended and some kids get the “behavioral 101 elective training” based on his or her popularity or status with a teacher or position on a sports team or club? Who decides? Is there a rule for the rule?

Mr. Wade is saying don't worry, the violator should just work it off on a Saturday - and not effect the county school stats- the rest of the kids see the kid right back in school and get the wrong message and everything is back to normal. Unless the kid had a weapon or is part of a gang! Gee, glad to hear that!

Lets stop playing games with all our budgets, test scores, salaries, number of students, maintenance cost, etc. and just be on the up and up about our school system and you'd be surprised how much better things would run. It really just seems that we go from one headline stating something really excellent for our county schools only to learn that there is something hidden in the side bars. Even if the side bar information is not that earth shattering it is that we only learn about it after the fact or that the BOE or the Commissioners tried to hide it from the public that makes us – the public, shareholders, stakeholders, taxpayers, the PEOPLE YOU ARE SUPPOSE TO BE REPORTING TO,, working with, - look at our elected officials and the rest of the government officials with very, very concerned and hard stares.