Parents ask city schools for clearer suspension policy

By Ellie Mamula
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer

An estimated 20 parents attend the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners Oct. 25 and asked officials to write a clearer policy on school suspensions.

Under a proposed policy presented to the board by parents, students would no longer be allowed to get sent home, or suspended, by a security guard or teacher without proper information and clarification so parents knew exactly why their child had been forced to leave school.

Netha Paul, a legal fellow who was representing students who face suspension and expulsion from the schools, said many students often do not know why they are being kicked out of school.

Paul said that under the current suspension policy, students are often unclear about who ordered the suspension and for how long they are suppose to be out of school.

“Kids would often call and say they got escorted out by a security officer,” Paul told the school board during the meeting. “These are all forms of illegal sent-homes because in these instances kids would not receive documents saying they got suspended.”

He said current policy is not clear on when the clock starts on a suspension. He said that if a student is told to come back in two days after being sent home to meet with the principal, the principal could start the student’s suspension at that moment.

Paul said his clients were proposing a removal policy that would allow students to have a clear idea of their suspension and punishments.

“Any time a child is removed from their regular classroom for over 90 minutes, that counts as a removal and that counts as a suspension,” Paul said.

He said the school system also needs a policy change that prohibits principals from transferring a suspended student to another school until his or her suspension is officially ended.

“A suspension is already a form of punishment,” Paul said. “To then transfer a child to a different school after a suspension is over is essentially another form of punishment.”

Children who are sent from school to school are unable to form relationships with peers and teachers as well as receive a steady education, Paul said.

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