The State of Education on Long Island: How School Suspensions Hurt More Than Help

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The State of Education on Long Island: How School Suspensions Hurt More Than Help

By Vanessa Parkes

Some say, “One hand always knows what the other is doing when it comes to education.” In other words, no matter how often school administrators may have “acted” like they were unaware of a situation going on in their building or district, they usually are very much informed.

Some adminiatrators are usually the ones giving the “ok” for the dysfunction happening in their district. Administrators tend to use plausible deniability to avoid accountability for their actions pertaining to the negligence that happens on their watch. By now you are probably asking yourself, “What does this have to do with suspensions?” Let’s talk about it!

If a child is considered “disruptive” and is written up for anything it will be documented. A child can be written up for anything from talking too loud to fighting. In one school district, a teacher actually wrote students up on a daily basis for crumpling up paper and throwing it in the trash can from across the room.

When a child commits a serious infraction, such as fighting, administrators pull up the child’s school record and issues suspensions based on the number of write-ups issued in the past, regardless of what their current infractions are. Then the child is put on a long suspension. Communication is then limited and when it’s time to come back to school, the child is then denied entry back into school. The reasons given for locking a child out are never really clear. The administrators “act” like they are unaware of the situation and tell the child to have their parents call guidance for a meeting.

The child is then sent home until the meeting. In the time it takes for the child to re-enter school, they have been marked absent for each day. Some students were never tutored, which then leads to other problems.

This is a big deal, especially if the child in question is around 16 years old. The child can be kept out of school for so long that dropping out becomes the obvious next step. This is rarely discussed as the cause for high drop out and low graduation rates. What’s more disturbing is when administrators are asked about this practice they tend to avoid accountability for their part in this messy situation. What should you do if your child is suspended from school for a long period of time?

1. Communication

Get email addresses and phone numbers for everyone attending the superintendent hearing for your child and email them frequently.

2. Hold the district accountable

Make sure your child is receiving home instruction. Call and email guidance everyday if you have to.

3. COMMUNICATION AGAIN

Email your child’s home instruction teachers and call them often for updates. Send the updates to your child’s classroom teachers and guidance, along with GRADES from the home instructor.

4. Be organized

Write down dates, times, topics of meetings and names with the school district and tutoring agency. Print out all emails and put them in a binder or folder. Make sure you take this binder/folder with you to all meetings.

5. Ask for help

Get a parent advocate and maybe even a lawyer. 

Vanessa Parkes

Vanessa Parkes

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