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Reversing School Suspensions

by KYW’s Dr. Marciene Mattleman

Remember way back when the boy next door was suspended from school and his mom didn’t want the neighbors to know. Suspension was a last resort. Fast forward to recent years — nationwide suspensions have increased dramatically.

Legislators in Connecticut were shocked to learn that in the 2006-07 school year, kids lost 250,000 school days — even kindergartners, who missed 1,000 days — some for minor infractions of the school uniform policy.   Many believe that suspensions weren’t working because students viewed time away from school as a vacation.

Since the numbers became public, a law has been passed with the goal of correcting student behaviors while keeping kids in school. In many places, even before the law goes into effect this summer, suspensions have already declined.

In Bridgeport, there has been the most dramatic drop from 22% to 13.9%. The goal is to keep kids in school and change their behaviors. The city system adopted “positive behavior support” strategies to change school climate and expectations using positive reinforcement. With new disciplinary habits, behavior and academics have improved. Read more in Hartford’s courant.com.