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Letter to the Editor, May 5, 2021: School suspensions detrimental to students

Letter to the Editor, May 5, 2021: School suspensions detrimental to students

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School suspensions

detrimental to students

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

From 2015 to 2016, more than 130,000 school suspensions were issued across Virginia, with Richmond holding one of the highest rates in the state. Despite the widespread use, suspensions have proven ineffective in deterring misconduct. In fact, suspensions are detrimental to student success. With more time unsupervised, suspended students are at increased risk for dropping out, or being arrested or incarcerated, a trend that has become known as the “school-to-prison pipeline.” Further, students of color are far more likely than their peers to experience severe disciplinary action — a trend that mirrors the racial disparity of mass incarceration.

Schools must be a place where children feel cared for and safe. School policies must, above all, protect students and prioritize their best interests. Removing a disruptive child from the classroom might be an easy solution to a stressful situation, but every time children are excluded, they lose their right to thrive. Consequences for student misbehavior should be rooted in rehabilitation and empathy, not exclusionary, zero-tolerance policies. Efforts must be made to create compassionate, person-centered spaces that foster individual potential.

Jenny Chelmow.

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