A new study commissioned by the Council of State Governments Justice Center has revealed startling numbers when it comes to Texas children and suspension from school. The study, called Breaking Schools’ Rules, found that of 1 million students tracked over a period of six years, 60% were suspended or expelled at least one time.
Sixty percent of the children were kicked out of school on a temporary or permanent basis between the 7th and 12th grades. In California, that number was 13%; in Florida it was 9%.
NPR states 15% of those Texas children were disciplined repeatedly, 11 times or more and “half of them ended up in juvenile-justice facilities or programs for an average of 73 schooldays.” That begs the question, how does school discipline affect a child’s propensity towards criminal behavior?
The problem, experts say, is the decision to discipline a child by suspension or expulsion is made by a teacher or sole administrator. There are not checks and balances and some have begun using suspension as the first line of defense rather than the last.
Research shows that institutionalization can occur at young ages in juvenile detention facilities. That is, a child can become accustomed to being locked up and can, whether consciously or not, seek out the circumstances that will lead them back to incarceration. Can the same be said for suspension? It’s not out of the realm of possibilities that a child could become accustomed to being excluded or banished, in the same manner that they are separated when institutionalized.
It seems schools are using these tougher sanctions now more than ever. Since 2005, it’s said that only 3% of suspensions and expulsions involved drugs or weapons. So for 97% of cases, suspension or expulsion was not mandated by law, simply seen as justified by the sole decision maker in that particular case.
The problem with that is that it’s led to disproportionate applications of these most severe disciplinary practices. According to the study 70% of black girls who were tracked were suspended or expelled. Only 37% of white girls faced the same fate, for the same offenses. The school superintendent of Plano Texas, Doug Otto, admitted that racial prejudice is involved.
A child’s success in life is often determined by the quality of their education. If they are made to feel like they are not good enough to go to school, what would keep them from pursuing a more lucrative life of crime?
Your child’s downward spiral may have begun in the schools and now he/she could be facing serious criminal charges. If you or your child is facing charges in Texas, get a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney.