Many school districts across the nation are opting for less automatic suspensions, expulsions, and calls to 911, and are instead opting for one-on-one counseling and less severe punishment.
School districts in New York, Los Angeles and Denver, have decided to take part in the movement to move away from suspensions and move towards less harsh discipline policies. This comes after 14 year old Muslim Ahmed Mohamed was arrested at school when his teacher mistook a homemade clock for a bomb. Apart from being arrested, Ahmed was also given a 3 day suspension, even after it was clear it was just a clock.
Michael Gilbert, the head of the San Antonio National Association of Community and Restorative Justice which focuses on dialogue instead of punishment, has said “When we can’t tell the difference between a serious problem and a non-serious problem with a kid in school, the problem is not the kid: It is us.”
Apart from various school districts, state governments have also taken some actions for dialogue before punishment. Connecticut state government has limited the number of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions, Texas has decriminalized truancy, and Oregon state has limited suspensions and expulsions in students up to the 5th grade. Even the Obama administration asked schools to abandon sending kids to court and made guide lines for school personnel to resolve conflicts.
School districts such as Denver, have started implementing a restorative discipline program after being concerned about the high number of suspensions and expulsions. In Denver, the school year before the new policy took effect, there were about 11500 out of school suspensions, and 167 expulsions. Last school year after the policy went into effect, the suspensions were down to 5400 and the expulsions down to 55.
They have even gotten to the point where the students handle their own conflicts by talking with each other and the teachers just observing.