In D.C., expulsion is rare — except at charters

Washington D.C.charter schools expel students at far higher rates than district-run schools, reports the Washington Post.

During the 2011-12 school year, when charters enrolled 41 percent of the city’s students, they removed 227 children for discipline violations and had an expulsion rate of 72 per 10,000 students; the District school system removed three and had an expulsion rate of less than 1 per 10,000 students.

While two-thirds of charters recorded no expulsions, a charter for drop-outs expelled 30 students — nearly a third of enrollment — and another expelled 5 percent of its students.

In her senior year, Elsie Mayo was forced out of Thurgood Marshall Academy, a high-performing charter school, for coming to school drunk, talking back to a teacher and pulling a false fire alarm. She finished the year at Anacostia High School and qualified for $70,000 in scholarships to attend Simmons College in Boston, where she’s studying math and computer science. Thurgood Marshall counselors told her how to get the scholarship aid, she says in the video (below).

The D.C. school system relies heavily on long-term suspensions and involuntary transfers. It also runs alternative middle and high schools for badly behaved students. There’s talk of creating an alternative school for charter students who can’t behave in class.

Scott Pearson, executive director of the D.C. Public Charter School Board, hopes to reduce expulsions.

A few weeks after taking the charter board’s helm, Pearson released two years of discipline data. In August, the charter board published an additional year’s worth of numbers.

It already has had a “profound effect,” with charter expulsion rates dropping 25 to 30 percent so far this school year, Pearson said.

Schools are “taking a new look at their discipline procedures, and in many cases have modified their discipline procedures significantly to reduce the number of suspensions and expulsions,” he said.

However, Pearson doesn’t want charters to abandon expulsion for students who are dangerous or disruptive. Parents interviewed in the Post‘s video agree that safety is important.

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