A 2007 Connecticut school suspension law has never gone into effect. Supporters say the controversial law is misunderstood. WNPR’s Diane Orson reports.
Nearly everyone agrees that it’s not a great idea to punish kids by suspending them out-of-school. But according to the advocacy group Connecticut Voices for Children, out-of-school suspension rates in the state are surprisingly high. 6% of students were suspended in the 2007 school year. In 2005, kindergarteners lost almost 2,000 days of school because of out-of-school suspensions. Connecticut’s suspension law says kids must be disciplined in school unless they’re so dangerous or disruptive that an out-of-school suspension is absolutely necessary. But state educators and town leaders say that will cost too much. CT Voices Senior Policy Fellow Alexandra Dufresne says two important points in the law have been misunderstood.
"The first is the belief that the law requires schools to adopt in-school suspension rooms and those are thought to be quite expensive."
Dufresne says nothing in the law mandates that schools must pay for staff and space for in-school suspension centers.
"The second misunderstanding is that the law removes discretion from school administrators. In fact the law gives a tremendous amount of discretion to school administrators as it should to determine when an out-of-school suspension is warranted."
She says excluding kids from school contributes to dropout rates and the achievement gap. Implementation of the suspension law has been delayed twice. If there are no further delays, it will take effect on July 1st.
For WNPR, I’m Diane Orson.