Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Suspensions Typical in Paterson

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Suspensions Typical in Paterson

Article excerpt

PATERSON -- More than one in four students at city high schools were suspended at least once during the 2011-12 academic year, state statistics show, and the rate well exceeds 25 percent at some elementary schools.

During a meeting this week of parents, district administrators and elected officials, one local education advocate said her own grandchild has been suspended from kindergarten for as little as failing to sit still in class.

Linda Reid, who heads the Paterson Education Organizing Committee, and other advocates called on the district to impose a moratorium on certain types of out-of-school suspensions, and the district appears to be willing to investigate the problem.

"I definitely think the use of out-of-school suspension is excessive," said Reid, who says her granddaughter has been suspended from school three times. "There are a dozen better ways to address the problem than sending a student home where they'll watch television all day or get into even more trouble."

Terry Corallo, spokeswoman for the Paterson superintendent, said the district was studying the number of students who get out-of- school suspensions for level-one infractions, the least serious ones. She said the district would decide whether to change its policies based on results of the study.

She said that the district might consider using in-school suspensions more frequently for less serious offenses, but that out- of-school suspensions were necessary in certain cases.

The suspension rate sharply declined at John F. Kennedy High School from the 2010-11 school year -- during which 60 percent of students were suspended at least once -- after the school was divided into four academies. In the following school year, suspensions ranged from 32.7 percent at the business-oriented academy to 18.8 percent at the science-oriented school, according to state statistics.

The numbers do not differentiate between in-school and out-of- school suspensions, or take into account different categories of offenses for which suspensions are imposed. …

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