Issues with school suspensions in rural California

It is important to allow every child the opportunity to complete their high-school education. Unfortunately, that cannot occur if schools prevent students from attending class.

One California school is facing investigation by the California Bureau of Children’s Justice for the numbers of student suspensions – suspensions often occurring for relatively minor infractions. Rather than look for alternative punishments, there are allegations that the school continually resorts to suspensions and expulsions. Most concerning is the investigation of the school board’s treatment of homeless and foster children.

Documentation points to a variety of potential issues

The rural California town in question had an unusually high amount of suspensions. Between 2017 and 2018, at least four percent of students faced suspension across California. However, in one particular school, approximately 12 percent of the students faced suspension during the same period.

There’s a suspicion that discrimination played a role in the suspensions. Black students in that school were suspended 70 percent times more than white students. Other schools within the same school district also had suspension rates disproportionately impacting black students.

The school district is now taking steps to address this issue. Sadly, what steps they now take will likely not reverse the impact that students already suspended face.

Efforts to reduce suspensions in California schools

Statewide legislative measures have somewhat reduced student suspensions. California banned “defiance and disruption” suspensions for children in the early grades. This was in response to a large number of suspensions of disabled students and students of color. Even so, suspensions remain higher in rural schools than in urban schools.

Suspension and expulsions in our schools remain a significant legal issue. Students deal with a significant amount of issues both at and away from school. We must have a process in place that is fair, and that meets the concerns of our children. When dealing with such issues, parents may require support and guidance to an advocate who will defend the rights of children in disciplinary proceedings.

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