Schools Use Alternatives to Suspension, See Student Behavior Improve

The Sacramento Bee

Moms with pizza boxes and dads with McDonald’s bags filed into the quad at Harriet Eddy Middle School last week to eat lunch with their kids.

Parent Lunch Day, held monthly at the Elk Grove school, is one innovative method that educators are using to improve the climate on campus and, as a result, reduce suspensions and expulsions.

Sacramento-area schools had a sizable drop in suspensions and expulsions in 2013-14, according to new data from the California Department of Education. About 21,600 students in K-12 public schools in Sacramento, Yolo, El Dorado and Placer counties were suspended last year, down from 28,000 two years prior. Roughly 270 students were expelled last school year, 180 fewer than two years ago.

The decline reflects an ideological shift as school districts have asked administrators and teachers to reserve the harshest penalties for only the most severe behavioral problems. Districts say the data also show that preventive measures, such as regularly using positive reinforcement on campus, have proved effective.

Schools are turning to more holistic approaches to keep students on the right path, such as meditation and peer courts in which students decide on consequences for bad behavior. They are also relying more on Saturday school or after-school detention than keeping students out of class...

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