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Steven A. Greenburg, Education Law
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To reduce suspension rates, some schools take questionable action

No parent wants their children to suffer at school. We want them to be inspired and interested, meet friends and try new things. Unfortunately, many kids do not have this experience; they instead face an environment where they struggle and are more likely to receive discipline than praise.

California in particular has been focused on reducing suspension and expulsion rates in schools, and recent reports note there has been success. In fact, according to this KQED article, suspensions are down 50 percent and expulsions are down 40 percent. However, the approaches some schools have taken to achieve this may not be solving the actual problem of protecting kids from the consequences of overly harsh punishments.

New punishments, same consequences

Some schools in the state have turned to nontraditional forms of discipline when kids misbehave. At least one school doles out physical penalties, including push-ups and standing against a wall for a long time. It also evidently has children perform labor-related tasks, like pulling weeds and cleaning bathrooms as an alternative to suspension or expulsion.

Some argue these and similar efforts have the same consequences as suspension and expulsion. They can make children hate school, distrustful of teachers and suffer a drop in self-esteem.

Figuring out how to solve the problem

There is no question that discipline in schools is necessary, particularly when you consider the bullying, harassment and intimidation many kids experience. However, as schools try new ways of disciplining children without suspending or expelling them, chances are there will be some controversy over nontraditional solutions.

Teachers and school administrators often fall on one side, arguing that harsh penalties are effective and protect the children who are hurt or disrupted by misbehaving students. Parents, on the other hand, often say that coming down hard on children ultimately does more harm than good.

In such an environment, there is bound to be disagreements and contention. If you are a parent whose child has been suspended or otherwise penalized and you feel that the decision was wrongful, then you can talk to an attorney about your legal options for addressing and remedying the situation. 

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