Suspensions | St. Louis Public Radio

Suspensions

Drawing of child and scales of justice
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Black students in Missouri are four and a half times more likely to be suspended than white students, according to a report released Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri.

The ACLU also found that black students with disabilities are more than three times as likely to be suspended as white students with disabilities.

Normandy Superintendent Charles Pearson agreed to a list of principles to reduce suspensions on Saturday, May 23, 2015.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 14 9:45 a.m. with results of the assembly — By the 2018-2019 school year at least four school districts in the St. Louis area could have policies banning out of school suspensions for their youngest students.

At a regional assembly on suspensions Sunday evening, the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District pledged to ban out of school suspensions for pre-K through 3rd grade next school year. Ladue and Normandy committed to doing the same the following year. St. Louis Public Schools enacted their own ban this school year.

Students at Adams Elementary in St. Louis Sept 2016
File | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

This a preview of an upcoming episode of St. Louis Public Radio’s We Live Here, a podcast that explores race, class, power and poverty in the St. Louis region and beyond. Listen to the full version here

Black students in Missouri and the rest of the country are far more likely to receive out of school suspensions. And this school year St. Louis Public Schools became one of the few districts in the nation to ban out-of-school suspensions for its youngest students. 

Officials say the move has pushed them to rethink student discipline. 

MCU's Dietra Wise Baker talks during a workshop on the problems in the juvenile justice system in Missouri on May 14, 2016.
File Photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Metropolitan Congregations United is calling for police, school and juvenile court reform in St. Louis to reduce the disproportionate number of black children suspended from school and placed in juvenile detention. 

The social justice advocacy group held workshops Saturday as part of a campaign to break what’s called the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

Superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools, Kelvin Adams, tells the district’s Special Administrative Board (SAB) that the district should renovate and keep open Shenandoah and Mann Elementary School.
File | Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

Administrators will no longer be able to suspend students in pre-kindergarten through second grade who attend St. Louis Public Schools starting next fall.

Superintendent Kelvin Adams on Tuesday outlined several changes to the district’s student code of conduct during a Special Administrative Board meeting.

The most significant change eliminated out-of-school suspensions for the district’s youngest students.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

There is this term that gets thrown around in education circles that we felt needs some exploring.

School to prison pipeline.

It sounds like schools are some kind of factory for future inmates, which is not what most people think of as the mission of our education system. Rather, school is the place that prepares children for work, for life, for being good citizens. And for a lot of students, that is exactly what happens.

Robert Dillon, director of innovation for the Affton School District
courtesy photo

Racial disparities are a huge topic in education. And Missouri schools — specifically those in the St. Louis area — have been singled out as having some of the nation’s highest rates of suspensions that are disproportionately allocated to African Americans. 

Over the next few weeks we’ll be bringing you stories of people directly participating in that system. This week, we spoke to educators, who shared their own journeys of grappling with issues of race, poverty and discipline in local schools. 

Normandy Middle School
Normandy website

In their continuing struggle to raise test scores and regain accreditation, leaders of the Normandy school district have stressed a positive message: high expectations, strict standards, no excuses.

But students at the often-troubled Normandy Middle School have learned a different lesson.

Normandy Superintendent Charles Pearson agreed to a list of principles to reduce suspensions on Saturday, May 23, 2015.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

High school students with Metropolitan Congregations United are calling for a reduction in out-of-school suspensions in area schools. They presented data and recommendations for change Saturday to a group of about 40 educators and community members.

The group, called Students 4 Change, highlighted  a recent UCLA report, which found that Missouri suspends more African-American grade school students than any other state in the country.  Three St. Louis area schools in particular were singled out in the report: Normandy, Riverview Gardens and St. Louis Public Schools.