Suspensions at Charter Schools – fair or not?

Public schools and public charter schools have many similarities and also have many differences. By definition both schools receive funds from the government however unlike public schools charter schools are privately operated and students often apply to gain admittance into the school. This allows for charter schools to act independently of the government in terms of academics and also in creating their own mission and culture. One difference that is not often highlighted between the two schools is the suspension rate among students. Charter school students have been found to be suspended at a much higher rate than students at public schools. This has emerged as a major issue for charter schools in the Washington D.C. area and has drawn concern from government officials. The officials are concerned about the amount of time that the charter school students are spending outside the classroom and argue the incessant suspensions must be reduced in order to maintain graduation rates and keep students out of the criminal justice system. Officials and parents often point to a broad and vague outline by the charter schools of what constitutes a suspension as the reason for the high suspension rates. One effort made to reduce suspensions was drafted in 2009 and specifically outlined when D.C. public schools can and cannot suspend students however this cannot be implemented in the charter schools by the government officials since they are privately operated and do not have to adhere to public regulations.suspension

According to a report done by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) it found that the suspension rates for charter schools in D.C. were far higher than the national rate. Scott Pearson, the executive director of the D.C. Public Charter School Board argues that families are able to choose which school they go to and if they feel that their child is being suspended too often and cannot fit within the guidelines and rules put in place by the charter school then they have the freedom to go elsewhere. He argues that going to a charter school is a choice and parents choose these schools because of their orderly environment. Patrice Wedderburn an attorney in the field of education and justice contends that the students shouldn’t have to go to another school and that the issue lies with broad behavior policies at charter schools. According to the article written by the Washington Post charter schools in D.C. often see suspension rates for the year of up to 33%. I believe that this is a major problem for charter schools because instead of attempting to change their behavior policies they are choosing to send their students out of the school and forcing parents to come up with a way to monitor their kids during the school day. This can lead to unsupervised students which can lead to future bad decisions and it is a major problem among charter schools. Instead of having broad behavioral standards and punishing students by sending them out of the classroom charter schools should make their behavioral expectations more specific and should only suspend students for major violations. More supervised time in the classroom is always better for students than the alternative.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Suspensions at Charter Schools – fair or not?

  1. kbuffett says:

    What an interesting post! I have never even heard of this phenomenon until just now. Your point about how students who have exhibited not-so-serious behavioral problems should be given more supervised time in the classroom rather than just being suspended.

    This disciplinary gray area, as you mentioned, should definitely be defined more concisely – and there should be more precautions in place so that students who are on the verge of serious behavioral problems do not fall through the cracks.

    Reading the statistics you included in your post reminded me of KIPP Charter Schools. Unlike a lot of other charter schools, KIPP has very clear guidelines on behavioral expectations (which they stick to). There are been some controversy surrounding those guidelines, but I think that people interested in the suspension rate differences between traditional public schools and charter schools should take a look at them. Here’s a post I found that offers an insightful critique on their disciplinary policies:

    So, I guess the question is – how many guidelines are too much? To what extent do these policies make a negative impact on schools? It’s definitely something that needs serious consideration.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s