DC Discipline Code Under Review As Suspensions Lose Impact

Bill Turque:

Senior class president Christopher Jolly says suspensions are so common at Anacostia High School — where eight students were injured, including three who were stabbed, in a melee two months ago — that they have become meaningless as a form of discipline.
“The fact that everyone knows someone who has been suspended before often causes kids not to respect the suspension process,” Jolly said at a community forum this month on D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee’s proposal to revise the District’s student behavior code.
Rhee’s changes would move the system in a direction that makes sense to Jolly: away from out-of-school suspension as the disciplinary method of choice and toward counseling, peer influence and more options for keeping suspended students in school.
Officials said reliable data on suspensions are hard to come by because recordkeeping has been slipshod. But the available numbers suggest a dramatic surge. According to District figures, suspensions grew 72 percent between the 2006-07 and 2007-08 school years, from 1,303 to 2,245. That represents 4.5 percent of total enrollment. Numbers through November, the latest available for the current academic year, show suspensions running slightly behind last year.