ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Suspensions at schools took center stage Thursday. People gathered in front of the Rochester City School District administration building to rally and march. It’s to support a bill that would limit student suspensions across the state.
Supporters of the Solutions Not Suspensions Act argue school districts are not doing enough to reduce the number of students negatively impacted by being suspended from school. They’re calling for state lawmakers to pass a bill that would place caps on both the age and length of time a student be suspended.
Marching from RCSD administration building to the Monroe County Jail, Nidia Benitez with the advocacy group The Children’s Agenda says school suspensions lead to a domino effect.
“What happens is they fall behind so when they come back to school with their classmates, its harder for them to catch up which may prevent them from graduating high school,” says Benitez.
In a policy report published by The Children’s Agenda, black and Hispanic students are up to five times more likely to be suspended than white students. Reasons why organizers like Grace Ridley say school districts need to do more to keep students in the classroom.
“We would like to see programs that aid children in their development. social learning, not being dismissed but positive reinforcement and different skills to offset misbehaving,” says Ridley.
If passed, the bill would limit the use of suspensions for students Pre-K through third grade to only the most serious behavior. It would also shorten the maximum length of suspension from 180 days to 20 days, except when required by federal law.
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