Students of color, with disabilities and in the foster care system are disproportionately suspended and expelled every day. This ineffective form of punishment fosters a cycle of misbehaving and missing critical hours in school. When more students are suspended, studies show ALL students’ academic achievement suffers. That's why Children’s Law Center supports the Student Fair Access to School legislation so all students can stay engaged and learning.
WAMU's Kate McGee recently sat down with CLC Executive Director Judith Sandalow and CLC client Ms. Bishop to talk about the harmful impact of suspensions and expulsions.
Child advocates who represent students and families say too many schools rely heavily on suspensions.
“We have many parents who are called at 11 o’clock every morning: ‘Come and get your child,” says Judith Sandalow, Executive Director of the Children’s Law Center. One of her clients, Sabrina Bishop, frequently received those calls. When her son was in second and third grade, Bishop said he was suspended from his elementary school in Southeast D.C. multiple times a month. Bishop finally realized he was acting out because he had an undiagnosed learning disability and couldn’t keep up with his classmates:
“He was embarrassed and being so, he was embarrassed he didn’t know no other way,” Bishop says. “He knew how to be put out, he knew how to get suspended and he did those things.”
When he returned to school, he was often behind on the material.
“They giving you something that’s reading, I still don’t know it cause I’m always at home and they don’t give me no work, so how am I to do the stuff?” Bishop’s son says.
Bishop said that her son’s discipline problems have gone away now that his learning issues are being addressed. She thinks that her son could have gotten the help he needs earlier if suspensions weren’t allowed.