Declining Discipline Suspensions?

The Los Angeles Times reported on June 1, 2014 that the Los Angeles Unified School District’s disciplinary suspensions have been reduced.

The article reported about schools where administrators typically handled discipline problems by suspending students. However, several parents complained that their children were sent home without officially being suspended.

Several parents at one of the schools said their children were unfairly removed from school and “off the books.” A confidential report by community organizations found that some principles were using “workaround” to district mandates to reduce suspensions.

Similar charges have been made elsewhere in the district. One school principal was removed following allegations that he sent home at least 20 students while directing the staff not to mark them absent or suspended. According to school data, 31 students at another school were send home during the school year —also without being officially suspended for discipline reasons.

The article quoted that one administrator in the South Los Angeles office issued a directive reminding principals not to push students from campus: “Students may not be sent home at any time and parents may not be asked to pick up their students to avoid the suspension. These acts are not only a violation of district policy but also of individual civil rights.”

Does this mandate from the district administrator help in any way to solve the discipline challenges that teachers and school administrators face?

The article mentioned a principal who asked for new resources to support alternative disciplinary approaches. Among those listed were a conflict resolution specialist, a restorative justice coordinator, more campus aids, and performing arts events.

How sad it is that the educational establishment does not help classroom teachers become more effective, especially since the classroom is where so many discipline problems start. More money and more outside specialists do not address the core situation that can reduce discipline problems and suspensions.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote in his poem, The Arsenal at Springfield:

     Were half the power that fills the world with terror,
     Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts,
     Given to redeem the human mind from error,
     There would be no need of arsenals or forts.

If teachers were trained to motivate students to act responsibly, rather than to have students merely become obedient, and if teaches were aware that they are in the motivation and relationship profession, there would be no need to issue mandates and hide suspensions.