S.F. Gate: S.F. Schools Move away from suspensions

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Story by Jill Tucker

Photo by: Michael Short, The Chronicle

Photo by: Michael Short, The Chronicle

Like a firm rap on the knuckles with a ruler or a backside paddling, suspending students for bad behavior is increasingly becoming passe in public schools across California and the nation.

For starters, it doesn't really work, educators admit. Research has repeatedly shown suspended students are more likely to fail in school and drop out.

And logic would hold that students temporarily banned from school are more likely to play video games than penitently mull over transgressions while they are away.

In San Francisco, the school board is considering a resolution that would restrict the use of suspension to more serious offenses, including fights or bringing weapons, drugs or alcohol to school. Principals would no longer be allowed to suspend for what is called

willful defiance or disruption - a catchall category that until recently accounted for about a quarter of all suspensions in the district.

Los Angeles is among a handful of districts that have already banned suspensions for willful defiance, and in San Francisco some schools have voluntarily adopted the same policy.

"We should have ways in which we can deal with a student inside our schools without sending them home and losing instructional time," said school board member Matt Haney, the author of the resolution. "What I'm hearing from teachers and principals is that they understand suspension is not an effective intervention for defiance."

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