DURHAM, N.C. – A report released today from the Youth Justice Project finds that North Carolina public schools are increasingly using suspension as a means to address student misbehavior. This shift negatively impacts students as suspensions remove the child from the classroom, resulting in a loss of learning and an adverse impact on overall school climate. However, many schools lack the resources necessary to prevent and effectively address student misbehavior. As a result, suspension rates rose in the 2015-16 academic year after seeing declines in recent years.
“Over 100,000 public school students in North Carolina received one or more suspension or expulsion for the 2015-16 academic year,” said Ricky Watson Jr., co-director of the Youth Justice Project, citing the report’s findings. “We know that suspensions harm students and schools alike. Reducing our reliance on suspensions means a safer and more effective learning environment for all.”
Students can be suspended for small infractions, such as chewing gum in class or a cell phone ringing. In some cases, problems that used to be resolved in the principal’s office go straight to our court system. Court referrals negatively impact North Carolina youth who live in the only state that charges 16- and 17-year-olds as adults for all crimes, regardless of the offense. Prosecuting youth as adults leads to a lifelong criminal record and adult consequences for children who have not yet finished growing up.
This response can also have devastating impacts on certain student populations. For example, male students, African American students, and students with disabilities are disproportionately suspended and expelled, as well as reassigned to Alternative Learning Programs. Unfortunately, it is difficult to learn more about how students’ identities may impact suspension decisions as North Carolina Public Schools’ published data is limited in terms of disaggregated data on offense, socio-economic status, and race.
“Students should be held accountable in a manner that does not negatively affect their education or that of others,” said Peggy Nicholson, co-director of the Youth Justice Project. “It is time we pursue alternatives to suspensions and provide schools with the resources to do so.”
Link to the Suspension Fact Sheet: http://bit.ly/2pHbyhd
Link to the Suspension Full Report: http://bit.ly/2qkGx1Y