A team of national experts has urged a major overhaul in the way Milwaukee Public Schools handles behavior issues in schools, saying MPS does not do enough to deal with problems short of suspending students and may have the highest suspension rate of any urban school system in America.
“District staff members need to mobilize to meet this challenge” of dealing with behavior issues in ways that don’t involve suspensions but are more effective in improving both a student’s behavior and academic work, the team said in a report to MPS officials.
Superintendent William Andrekopoulos said in an interview that changes in line with the report’s recommendations are under way, including a new policy in which every parent will be given a written statement this fall on the disciplinary practices that will be used in a child’s classroom.
The report, submitted several months ago, is the second in two years by a team from the Council of Great City Schools that was critical of major aspects of what goes on in MPS classrooms. In both cases, the reports were not made public until a Journal Sentinel reporter asked for them. In 2006, a report from the council criticized academic practices and low achievement by students, called for more direction from the central administration of what was being done in schools, and said people involved in MPS, from the School Board to the classroom, “appear fairly complacent.”