York City School District officials are developing a plan to reduce the district's number of out-of-school suspensions.
An ACLU report released in November showed the district leads the 500 state school districts in out-of-school suspensions. In the 2011-12 school year, the most recent year of available data, York City assessed 91.4 suspensions for every 100 students, according to the report. The second-highest rate was 78.3 suspensions for every 100 students, in the Sto-Rox School District in Allegheny County.
Superintendent Eric Holmes said at a school board meeting last week the district began working on a plan to reduce those numbers before the report was released.
But the ACLU's report seems to have expedited the process.
Proposal: The proposal, which is not yet complete, would instead send students to a structured classroom at the William C. Goodridge Academy at the Lindbergh Education Center "so they're not sitting at home eating Doritos, playing video games," said Sue Moyer, principal at Jackson K-8.
Starting this year, the alternative school program is being operated by a third party, Specialized Education Services Inc.
The district is proposing to reserve a classroom at the academy for students in grades 6 through 12 who might otherwise receive an out-of-school suspension.
Each of the district's schools would have a number of slots for students, based on enrollment, up to about 25 total. The district is proposing to hire a teacher and administrator for the program, at a cost of about $115,000 annually.
Teachers would provide schoolwork for students serving their suspensions at the academy, Moyer said.
The suspension program would offer an opportunity for staff at the alternative school to develop relationships with students who have repeated behavioral issues, said Bret Wade, the academy's principal.
Operating a classroom of students in multiple grades presents some challenges, but it's surely a better model than sending students home, Wade said.
Holmes said the district is working on a policy for the program, which would require approval from the school board before it can be put into practice.
He said the district is on track to begin sending suspended students to Lindbergh by February.
-- Reach Erin James at firstname.lastname@example.org.