Non-profit group urges lawmakers to find alternatives to school suspension for primary-aged children

Source: KTRE
Source: KTRE

EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - A new report released Monday shows the number of children, across the state from 2015 to 2016, who were suspended from pre-k to second grade. Simultaneously a law, implemented in September 2017, prohibits out-of-school suspensions for public school students within that age group.

A Hudson ISD school is looking ahead while implementing alternative solutions to keep children in the classroom. At Peavy Primary, Assistant Principal Kelley Phillips showcases the program called social express.

"For example if we have a situation where a child needs to come to the office to talk to one of us as the principals, then that might be some we feel they need a lesson on that behavior so they can watch that video and they can learn essentially from that video specific to that child," Phillips said.

The videos are just one example of supplement resource for the school to use to help the child find a solution rather than imposing a consequence, like in-school suspension, that reduces classroom time. First grade teacher Amanda Horan said children want to learn.

"Kids don't want to be out of the room. And we as teachers we are given tools to teach these children how to behave, just like we would teach math, reading, spelling, writing, we have to teach them how to behave, how to use their words. Their actions have consequences," Horan said.

The non profit group Texans Care for Children said the new law is a major step forward, but school districts and state policymakers still have significant work to do. They're urging legislators to ensure effective strategies are implemented in our schools, and address the ongoing use of in-school suspensions in early grades and other ineffective discipline practices that are still permitted.

Meanwhile, Principal Laura Mikael said their approach to restorative discipline has help bring out transformation not only for the teachers, but the children as well.

"Its been positive and it's been very effective. I was very amazed at how quickly it caught on with our teachers," Mikeal said.

The non-profit group said, while the new law prohibiting out of school suspension is a step forward, school districts, the Texas Education Agency and state legislators have significant work to do in order to reduce in-school suspensions.

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