Updated 08/31/2012 05:29 PM
Fewer suspensions in Guilford County Schools does not reflect behavior
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GREENSBORO — Statistics show that fewer Guilford County students are being suspended.
However, school officials say it is not because students are better behaved. Five years ago, Guilford County Schools set two long-term goals; decrease the number of out-of-school suspensions for non-criminal behavior and decrease the number of criminal offenses at school.
The number of suspensions for non-criminal behavior has dropped by nearly 40 percent since then. However it is not necessarily because everyone is on their best behavior.
"I do believe our principals and teachers are using other interventions to address those discretionary, non-violent non-criminal behaviors," said director of student services Brenda Elliott.
Some of those behaviors include talking back to a teacher or being disrespectful to other students.
"Our staff worked real hard last year in creating a new in-school and after-school detention program. We put that in place and took care of a lot of our tardies and addressed a lot of behaviors we wanted to make sure were addressed," said Northern Guilford High School Principal Will Laine.
While a number of criminal offenses have dropped, others like bullying, verbal harassment and gang activity have gone up in recent years. Overall, these reportable offenses have dropped by almost 8 percent in the past five years, falling short of their five-year goal of a 10 percent decrease.
Whether the numbers go up or down, schools say students benefit if they find another form of punishment other than suspension.
"When you have as your primary strategy to remove kids from the classroom, then it becomes a double edged sword. Not only are your suspension rates going on, but people are missing important content," said Elliott.
Guilford County Schools leaders are also working to address the issue of more African-American kids being suspended compared to students of other ethnic groups.