Why the suspension rate is so high at one D.C. charter school

Although expulsions in charter schools decreased last year, short-term suspensions were slightly up. At one high-achieving middle school, DC Prep’s Edgewood campus, almost half the students received at least one one-day suspension. But the school says the disciplinary strategy is part of its formula for success.

Statistics recently released by the Public School Charter Board show a 27 percent decrease in expulsions at charter schools last year compared with the year before. Long-term suspensions, defined as 11 days or more, held steady at 0.3 percent. But one-day suspensions increased slightly, with five schools reporting that a quarter or more of their students received the punishment. Is that a problem? At least one school says it isn’t.

DC Prep’s Edgewood Middle Campus (EMC), one of the District’s highest-performing charters, gave 47 percent of its students at least one one-day suspension last year. That’s significantly higher than the average for the charter sector: 7 percent, up from 6.5 percent last year.

Generally, middle schools in D.C. have higher suspension rates than elementary or high schools. Charter middle schools had an average short-term suspension rate of 13.8 percent last year, almost twice the charter-wide average.

DCPS does not break down its figures into short- and long-term suspension, but the overall suspension rate in DCPS last year was about 14 percent. And the 14 DCPS middle schools seem to suspend students in greater numbers. In 2011-12, only one middle school had a suspension rate below 20 percent. (That was Deal, in Ward 3, with 7 percent). Some recorded more suspensions than students, indicating that some students were suspended repeatedly.

[Continue reading Natalie Wexler’s post at Greater Greater Education.]

Natalie Wexler is the editor of Greater Greater Education. She is a member of the boards of D.C. Scholars Public Charter School and the nonprofit One World Education. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

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Michael Larabee · October 24, 2013