Closing the door on outdoor suspension

September 15, 2015

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho recently announced that Miami Dade County Public Schools is working to completely eliminate out-of school or outdoor suspensions and moving towards success-oriented disciplinary action. The U.S. Department of Education supports that school suspensions are linked to lower academic performance, higher rates of dropout, failure to graduate on time, decreased academic engagement and future disciplinary exclusion.

“If your kids are getting in trouble out of school, there’s usually something wrong at home,” sophomore Emily Flores said.They could be doing worse out of school.”  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “‘out of school’ youth are significantly more likely than ‘in school’ youth to become involved in physical fights, carry a weapon, smoke, use alcohol, marijuana and other drugs, and engage in sexual intercourse.” In-school suspension monitors the behaviors of students, while students suspended outside of school are more likely to get involved in dangerous or illegal activity, that could lead to incarceration.  Many students who are faced with outdoor suspension, see no real penalty to their actions and actually view missing school as a privilege.  

“In out-of-school suspension, you can pretty much do whatever you want,” senior Alexander Neuman said.

While outdoor suspension creates concern for at-risk students missing valuable class time, in-school suspension poses the threat of decreasing student productivity.

“When you have a student in indoor suspension, they’re just going to be unruly and they’re going to to stay in suspension for a longer period of time, because they keep acting up,”  mathematics teacher, David Smith said. “They will then be transferred to other schools, and the problem won’t be addressed.”

To combat unhelpful in-school suspension techniques, the MDCPS Schools Operations Department utilizes the School Centers for Special Instruction (SCSI) and The Student Success Centers (SSC), which are aimed at providing a healthy learning environment for suspended students. Both SSC and SCSI were molded to meet student needs and ensure academic progress through working with families. These programs provide individual guidance to each student and teach decision-making, goal setting and ensuring that students productivity.

Hand-in-hand with this renewed look at disciplinary action and outdoor suspensions, we are expanding the role of school counselors and ‘success coaches’ in school,” Vice Chair of the MDCPS Board, Dr. Lawrence Feldman said. “It is my belief that early and preventative measures that support student well-being and character development will bring about deep and meaningful change in the lives of the those who most need it.”


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