Too Many Black Students Suspended Leads Oakland Schools Stopping Punishment
Board members of California’s Oakland Unified School District unanimously voted on Wednesday to cease suspending students for what they call “willful defiance.” Those behaviors can include swearing/yelling at teachers, refusing direct orders, texting, and storming out of class, to name a few.
The reason? Concern that too many black students are being suspended for willful defiance.
One sophomore student, Dan’enicole Williams, told the San Francisco Gate, “They never take time out, if someone is sleeping in class, to ask what’s wrong. They may be acting that way because they didn’t eat the night before.”
“We’re getting pushed out of schools,” she added. “They don’t care about us.”
Along with suspensions, the new policy will also include bans on expulsions and transfers of students to other schools for multiple infractions.
According to the SFGate, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has been investigating Oakland schools’ “disproportionate suspensions” for several years. The district signed a voluntary agreement in 2012 that brought in Manhood Development classes for black males to address behavior issues and to begin discussions on “restorative justice.” These programs, dubbed “alternative discipline,” can cost districts upwards of $2.3 million dollars per school year.
Vowing to cover those costs in his 2015-2016 budget, Superintendent Antwan Wilson said, “This is about reintegrating students into the classroom rather than excluding them from learning.” More