Handing out the Discipline
The power of how and when a student is disciplined falls to the school’s powers that be – teachers and administrators.
At the frontline is the classroom teacher. Research has shown that teachers, more specifically white teachers’ implicit bias can be a factor for discipline, according to the Kirwan Institute. For example, a black student is more likely to be suspended for infractions such as being disruptive in class compared to a white student.
Nine Network spoke with a group of teachers regarding how to make the call in determining discipline.
Earlier this year, the National Education Association reported that its members and leadership were committed to shutting down the school-to-prison pipeline.
“We have to provide more sustainable professional development for teachers,” LUME Institute CEO Steve Zwolak said. “Children are walking into their classrooms with something called ‘adverse childhood experiences,’ things that have been passed down for generations, and it manifests itself in behaviors. They have long-terms health impacts. Teachers need to understand what the experiences are.” (St. Louis Public Radio)
More than 85 percent of town hall attendees surveyed said that teachers need further diversity training to understand the needs of their students. That included 100 percent in total responses from parents, teachers and administrators.
@TheNineNetwork Teacher edu. How are we training people in college to work with our children? How much child dev or group mgmt do they get?— CSPP:ShutItDownSTL (@ShutItDownSTL) October 22, 2015
A9. Acknowledge inequities. Engage students in culturally relevant practices. Hold leaders/policymakers accountable. #AmGradSTL— Alexander Cuenca (@alexandercuenca) October 22, 2015
Beyond teachers, principals and administrators also play a role in student discipline.
"The building principal is authorized to suspend a student for up to ten days. The superintendent is authorized under state statute to suspend a student up to 180 days based upon the district's disciplinary code.
School boards have the authority to immediately remove a student upon a finding by school officials that the student poses a threat of harm as evidenced by prior conduct. Among other things, the board may base its determination on past disciplinary actions taken and the student's criminal or juvenile record. A school board may also suspend a student who has been charged with, convicted of, or pled guilty to a felony criminal violation in a court of general jurisdiction whether or not the violation occurred on or off school premises. In the above-mentioned situations, the board must afford the student a hearing before rendering its decision." 167.161, RSMo; Yarber v. McHenry, 915 S.W.2d 325 (Mo. 1995). (DESE)
During our townhall, a principal from an area district also spoke out on the issues, and Missouri Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven discussed the school discipline issue.