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San Diego County Students More Often Suspended For Non-Violent, Non-Drug Infractions

Aired 10/10/11 on KPBS News.

San Diego County Students More Often Suspended For Non-Violent, Non-Drug Infractions

— The California Endowment is calling on California schools to turn away from “no-tolerance" discipline policies commonly adopted after the Columbine High School shootings. They say the policies do more harm than good.

The organization is calling on schools to look for discipline alternatives that keep kids in school.

“The data doesn’t support that these policies necessarily strengthen school safety and create a more conducive learning environment," said Robert Ross, president and CEO of the endowment.

A recent national report shows students who are frequently suspended are more likely to drop out of school and that minority students are more likely to be suspended repeatedly.

Those numbers make Ross think students who act out at school could need support more than discipline. He suggests schools start asking a different set of questions about how to improve school safety and student behavior.

“How do we connect this young person to the mental health or social supports that they need?' he said. "Which probably calls for more partnership strategies that schools may have with local health providers, mental health counselors, mentoring programs.”

In each of the last five school years between 8 and 10 percent of students in San Diego County were suspended from school. Each year fewer than half of the suspensions were for violent or drug-related behavior.

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