Independent School Accomodations

Are School Suspensions on the Rise

educational alternatives LLC.Is it true that school suspensions are on the rise?


A. Yes, school suspensions are absolutely on the rise. New standards of behavior and expectations of students from kindergarten to 12th grade are in place in both private and public schools. The number of children who are suspended for nonviolent acts is alarming. In one case, a kindergartener was suspended for calling his teacher “a dumb bunny!”  Because suspensions have adverse effects on our children, we need to develop solutions, not suspensions.

Lisa Syron, the executive director of Student Advocacy, and Stefanie Shabman, the legal director, of Student Advocacy, recently gave us some numbers in “Solutions Not Suspensions,” a presentation that Student Advocacy gave on the topic. Their findings reveal that more than 100,000 students were suspended from NYC’s schools in the 2011-2012 school year, representing 4% of the student population. An estimated 78% of the suspensions in grades 11-12 in NYC and 94% of the suspensions in Westchester were for nonviolent incidents.

Alarmingly, 22% of all suspended children are elementary school students. Statistics indicate that disabled students are far more likely to be suspended than their nondisabled counterparts.

School suspensions lead to loss of academic time and, often, to academic failure. Syron and Shabman report that among students suspended in, the NYC’s 2011-2012 school year, 31% were held back compared with 5% of students who were not suspended.

Sadly, school suspensions nationally are a gateway into the juvenile justice system. A three-day suspension plus 20 additional absences has been correlated to a 61% increase in arrest rates among students. Schools in this scenario are a prison pipeline.

Clearly, faculty training is needed to foster acceptance of best practices in working with disabled students.  Administrations need to review each case prior to a school suspension to determine if an alternative solution can be put into place. For instance, an elementary student who has an auditory processing disorder may not ‘hear’ the command to ‘remove his hat’ in the hallway by his teacher or principal. The hallway may offer too many external distractions for the student to ‘tune’ into that instruction. So, even though hats are not allowed to be worn in school, and despite the fact that this child may have been asked repeatedly to ‘remove his hat,’ a suspension for insubordination would be an unreasonable solution for that student.

Alternative solutions to suspensions are crucial because students often make poor decisions and their social judgment is not sound. After all, students are children, and educational institutions need to embrace these situations as teachable moments, not punitive ones. Examples that Syron and Shabman suggest as alternative solutions to suspensions included community service and a campaign to show the harm of smoking when caught smoking on school grounds. With regard to alcohol use, they suggest weekly in-school detentions with group counseling in alcoholism and addiction.

Another suggestion for alternative responses for disciplinary offenses is restoration justice –making amends for inappropriate action and having the punishment fit the crime. Other suggestions include reflective essays making apologies and taking ownership for the actions, as well as parent meetings, community service, and withdrawal of privileges.  Examples of preventative measures that will also help to avoid suspensions include training by mental health professionals who will instruct faculty on how to deescalate situations. Mediation, academic support, credit recovery, mentoring coaches and actively teaching social skills and character development will all aid in reducing the increase in school suspensions.

If you have questions concerning your child’s education visit ‘Ask Dana’ and post a question. Private and confidential

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This is re=printed from ‘The Somers Record’

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Helping Teens with Asperger’s Negotiate Their School Routines

Non Verbal Learning DisabilityTeenagers with Asperger’s Spectrum Disorder are intimately familiar with the numerous challenges of negotiating their way through their daily school routines. Most teens and students transitioning to higher level educational face challenges, but these challenges are often heightened for ASD teens by the increased social/emotional and academic demands of their programs. Undoubtedly, ASD teens struggle with the expectations that academic programs place upon them with regard to social interaction, misinterpretation of social cues, and difficulty formulating and maintaining peer interactions.  Read more

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Understanding the Needs of Exceptional Students When Assessing Appropriate Educational Schools and Programs

Understanding the Needs of Exceptional Students When Assessing Appropriate Educational Schools and Programs
By Dana Stahl, M.Ed., Educational Alternatives LLC

Reprinted from “Insights” The Newsletter of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, April/May 2015

educational alternatives LLC.Individual profiles provide essential information for educators. Interpreting these formal evaluations enables educators to build on the recommendations in the profiles to create effective teaching strategies for their students with learning issues. Using these profiles to supplement their own observations, educators can distinguish among various learning and behavior issues. They are thus better able to understand their students’ individual differences and design successful academic lessons. Educational consultants who also rely on understanding a student’s individual profile will deepen their skill set by acquiring a better appreciation of their client’s needs, thereby expanding their ability to secure appropriate educational placements for exceptional clients. By familiarizing themselves with specific learning issues, educational consultants will increase their realization of the academic, social, and emotional issues that exceptional students face, thus gaining an increased command of their client’s unique learning needs. Read more

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Helping LD Students Deal with the Social & Emotional Side of Applying to Colleges

DysgraphiaThe social/emotional component of learning disabled students when applying to colleges is often fraught with fear and apprehension beyond what their non-learning disabled peers experience. After all, the application process demands solid skills in executive functioning, organization, time management, processing speed, reading comprehension skills, written language skills, working memory and mature social judgment.

LD candidates often worry that they are unable to meet expectations and feel overwhelmed when and moving through the various stages of the college application process. Read more

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Is This Your Child? Behavioral and Learning Issues Educators Observe in The Classrooms

Parents are often alarmed by the observations educators report regarding the behaviors of their children in school. It may be that your child is having an off day, but if these behaviors remain persistent, it may be time to explore what the learning issues are and how best to implement effective teaching strategies to deal with them. Read more

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Determined to Learn

As a young child, I received inadequate treatment for my learning disability. It was not until I was ten years old that a proper assessment and an appropriate treatment plan were initiated to begin remediating my disability. I was diagnosed as being dyslexic. Before I was tutored, I would close my eyes, see darkness and be unable to visually conceptualize any words. My reading comprehension and retention was below average, preventing me from following written directions for class assignments. My reading difficulties particularly affected my math performance, for I was unable to follow directions. I recall not having adequate concept of numerical values as represented by their accompanying symbols. Due to these learning deficits in both reading and math, elementary school entailed frustrating and often terrifying experiences. Read more