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Wake student suspensions declining, but still a concern

Posted June 4, 2013

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— The number of suspensions in the Wake County Public School System has declined in the past year, but it’s still high enough to sound the alarm for administrators, parents and students alike.

The groups began addressing the issue during a school board meeting Tuesday night, where talk turned to the role that police may be playing.

“These kids are getting arrested (in) dysfunctional numbers,” parent Racquel Williams said.

School board member Jim Martin recalled an incident he had with a school officer before he joined the board.

“I was threatened that I better be careful or I would get arrested,” he said.

The conversation was sparked by a recent water balloon prank at Enloe High School that ended in the arrest of seven students and a parent, Kevin Hines.

"For this to happen to me or any parent is egregious,” Hines told the board.

Several people who spoke during Tuesday’s meeting demanded change in how behavioral problems are handled and how minority students are being treated.

There were 14,626 suspensions in the last school year, marking a decrease from last year of about 18 percent in short-term suspensions and 30 percent in long-term suspensions, according to district figures.

Black students, who make up less than a quarter of the district population, received 8,802 of those suspensions.

White students, who make up nearly half of the student population, had 2,699 suspensions. And Hispanics, who comprise about 15 percent of the student population, had 2,307 suspensions.

School board Chairman Keith Sutton said the board needs to look at the feasibility of a moratorium on certain suspensions.

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  • berob99 Jun 6, 2013

    keepingkids1st - "it is MATHEMATICALLY IMPOSSIBLE that a minority group could justifiably represent the largest amount of suspensions."

    It's obviously not mathematically impossible that minority populations can be justifiably suspended at disproportionate levels, and the incareration rate of blacks proves it. Again, blacks make up ~12% of the total population but ~45% of the prison population. Let me be clear that I certainly believe that there is some bias and prejudice in sentencing that contributes in part to this large discrepancy, but it certainly doesn't account for it all. And while I can't deny your statistic about the increase in the number of white children born out of wedlock (it's increased among all races), it still doesn't approach the level of black children born out-of-wedlock. Add to that the fact that black children are more likely to have single parents, absentee fathers, younger and less educated parents, and higher poverty levels, and its easy to undertsand wh

  • Patrick Henry Jun 5, 2013

    As someone who works everyday in the public school system,I can fairly say that you cannot teach with a disruptive student in the classroom. I understand what people mean when they say that students get nothing from being suspended, and that is true. HOWEVER, if the child beng there is detrimental to the 30 others in the class, then one student not getting what they need is FAR better than all students not getting what they need.

  • NotUrTypicalAmerican Jun 5, 2013

    Well said, keepingkids1st. Very well said.

    Too many people like to throw stones, that is, until one hits them first.

  • mattbman2 Jun 5, 2013

    They keep talking about the arrests around the Enloe incident being unwarranted, yet that seem to be not be reporting the full facts of the "water balloon" fight. There were other substances in the balloons that elevate the actions to misdemeanor assault.

  • mrdublove Jun 5, 2013

    I teach in the Wake county School System. My children came through the same system, as did I. My simply desire is this: Everyone involved in the discussions and policy-making concerning this topic will spend significant time on the SCHOOL CAMPUSES to get a true, non-political view of the actual problem. Teachers need to teach, and students need to learn in a safe, focused learning environment. There are too many behavioral issues in our schools today! This is a major problem that needs to be resolved.

  • keepingkids1st Jun 5, 2013

    Sometimes people amaze me...it is mathematically impossible that a minority group could justifiably represent the largest amount of suspensions...these are the probably the same people who think have a class of 30 academically gifted children is normal. If you spent a day in a school simply observing classes and the county zero tolerance policy you would be outraged at why suspensions are so high in Fair Ole Wake County. Some kids don't have to do much before they are sent home...and while you quote statistics about being born out of wedlock here's a FYI they number of white people having children out of wedlock has doubled in the last decade. Every day a ANY child misses school puts them further behind potentially leading to be years behind their peers. Don't forget you were all children once rational decisions are not the average child's choice. Instead of saying what you think parents aren't doing why don't you go volunteer in overcrowded classrooms or schools!

  • ConservativeVoter Jun 5, 2013

    "School board Chairman Keith Sutton said the board needs to look at the feasibility of a moratorium on certain suspensions."

    Instead of a moratorium on suspensions, they need to crank up discipline starting in the home.

  • fuzzmom Jun 5, 2013

    berobb99, what you are saying makes sense, UNTIL you take into account the number of non-white kids expelled or suspended for doing the EXACT same thing as white kids who were not expelled or suspended. I think the issue is the discretion in the suspensions. Now does this mean that kids, black, white, brown, red, or yellow shouldn't be acting up? No. But it does mean that there may be a problem with the suspensions as a method of punishment and how they're handed out. Suspend everyone for the same type of behavior or find another method.

  • Obamacare for life Jun 5, 2013

    berob99, exactly. It's a perpetual cycle within this culture because apparently it takes to much effort to break that cycle.

  • JimW Jun 5, 2013

    Kids today are coddled too much to begin with. I'm curious, how are their academic results? If people are misbehaving, they need to be held accountable and punished.

    Just arbitrarily trying to lower suspensions has NO value at all. Race has nothing to do with this either. Focus on the kids' grades. Teachers should be able to discipline if they need to. You take that right away from them, and classes will run wild and those that are there to learn will not be able to.

    This article makes the school board look pathetic in my opinion.

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