Defiance no reason to suspend students, board president says
By Teresa Watanabe
April 11, 2013, 2:29 p.m.
Administrators in the Los Angeles Unified School District would no longer be allowed to suspend students for mouthing off or other acts of “willful defiance” under a groundbreaking school board resolution set to be proposed next week.
Amid rising national concern that harsh discipline practices disproportionately harm minority students, the resolution by board President Monica Garcia would mark the first state ban on suspensions for willful defiance.
Instead, schools would be required to use less punitive alternatives to deal with behavioral problems. Students have been suspended for such acts as wearing hats, tapping their feet on the floor and refusing to read as directed under the willful defiance category, which accounts for nearly 42% of all suspensions in California and about one-third in L.A. Unified.
Garcia was scheduled to appear at a rally Thursday with hundreds of students and community activists to kick off a citywide campaign to pass the resolution, the School Climate Bill of Rights. ...
Faer said two decades of research has shown that suspending students does not improve behavior but only places students at higher risk for dropping out or running afoul of the law.
Yeah, but suspension gets them out of the classroom, allowing other students to learn. But who cares about the cooperative students who want to get an education? They're not official victims, so they don't count.
Studies have also shown that harsh discipline policies are used more frequently with African American youth and students with disabilities. In an analysis of federal data released this week, the UCLA Civil Rights Project reported that African Americans accounted for 26% of L.A. Unified’s suspensions in 2009-10 but make up less than 10% of the district’s students.
However, the district has made progress in reducing suspensions overall. The number of instruction days lost to suspensions decreased to 26,286 in 2011-12, compared to 74,765 in 2006-07.
Garcia’s resolution would direct all schools to develop two alternatives to suspension that research has shown to be effective: restorative justice practices, which include peer mediation, counseling and face-to-face meetings among involved parties and a program to improve schoolwide behavior through clear expectations and incentives.
How about afterschool detentions doing humiliating litter pick-up in front of other students under the domineering command of an assistant football coach? It's not as if the human race has zero experience at how to intimidate young punks into line.
The resolution would also require the district to release data on suspensions every quarter and set up a complaint process for students and parents if their schools do not establish the two prescribed alternative programs.
LAUSD schools already have to release suspension data every year for the benefit of plaintiffs' attorneys trawling for disparate impact discrimination lawsuits (for example, here is the suspension data by race for the expensive new East Valley high school in North Hollywood), but apparently the lawyers don't find that fast enough for the purposes of getting their hands in LAUSD's deep pockets.