Two things stand out when looking at the data recently released by Spokane Public Schools on student discipline.
For one, the total suspensions rate seems to have dropped significantly, which is good news for advocates who have pushed the district to cut down on exclusionary discipline
like suspensions and expulsions.
But the second takeaway? First-graders in the first 35 days of the school year have been suspended more than students in any other grade, including middle school and high school.
A total of 61 first-graders have
been suspended in the first part of this school year, according to district data. The grade with the next highest number of suspensions is eighth
grade, with 50. After that, it's kindergarteners who have the third-highest amount, with 49 suspensions.
This is troubling, says Vanessa Hernandez, ACLU of Washington youth policy director. In her view, it should be "incredibly rare" to suspend first-graders.
"That doesn't teach a first-grader
anything," she says.
Still, Hernandez was encouraged with the apparent overall reduction in suspensions in Spokane Public Schools through the first 35 days. Compared to this point last year, suspensions in elementary, middle and high schools have been reduced overall. Through the first 35 days of the 2015-16 school year, there were
a total of 712 suspensions in the district. After 35 days this year, there were 391 — a significant drop.