LAUSD Suspensions Down, But They Might Not Tell The Whole Story

By Julianne Hing Jun 03, 2014

While Los Angeles public schools have dramatically cut their suspension rates, some youth advocates warn that the seeming improvements don’t tell the whole story.

The Los Angeles Times’ Teresa Watanabe reports on allegations of principals turning to off-the-books suspensions to continue punishing students while still reporting dips in suspensions:

The principal at Manchester Elementary in South Los Angeles was removed earlier this year following allegations that he sent at least 20 students home while directing staff not to mark them absent or suspended, according to two knowledgeable sources who asked for anonymity to avoid retaliation. A district official confirmed Gregory Hooker’s removal "pending the outcome of an investigation" but declined to provide further details.

A confidential report by two community organizations in 2012 found that some principals were using "work-arounds" to district mandates to reduce suspensions. Maisie Chin, executive director of CADRE, a South Los Angeles nonprofit that has long worked on the discipline issue, declined to release the report but said it showed that some students were being sent home, sometimes with no given reason, depriving them of the due process rights in the formal suspension process.

Los Angeles schools have faced pressure to cut their suspension rates as the school-to-prison pipeline has become a national conversation. But this kind of cut is probably not what Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had in mind when he decried the overuse of suspensions in the nation’s schools. Read the rest at the Los Angeles Times.