Los Angeles won’t suspend for ‘willful defiance’

Los Angeles Unified will not suspend students for “willful defiance,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

The proposal would ban suspensions of students for “willful defiance,” an offense criticized as a subjective catch-all for such behavior as refusing to take off a hat, turn off a cellphone or failing to wear a school uniform. The offense accounted for 48% of 710,000 suspensions issued in California in 2011-12, prompting state and local efforts to restrict its use in disciplinary actions.

Disruptive students can be kicked out of class, but not out of school, the school board decided. Principals are supposed to develop alternatives, such as “positive behavior incentives” and “restorative justice” strategies.

Students still will be suspended for violence, drugs, fights and other behavior that threatens others, Superintendent John Deasy told the board. But he said students shouldn’t be pushed out of school for non-violent misbehavior. “We want to be part of graduating, not incarcerating,” students, he said.

Black students, who make up 9 percent of enrollment in Los Angeles, drew 26 percent of suspensions for defiance. What if they account for a disproportionate share of alternative discipline referrals?

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  1. When the dinosaurs still roamed the earth and I was in school, it was called “having a bad attitude” and, if the ruler wielded by the teacher and the paddle wielded by the principal didn’t work, the HS coach administered a military-style “attitude adjustment” in the coatroom; sound effects transmitting clearly. Not only did no kid (male) ever need a second adjustment but one only had to occur every few years. However, the kids arrived in school already decently civilized and socialized – by their married parents. Ah, the good old days.. LA is about to have even more “willful defiance.”

  2. “What if they account for a disproportionate share of alternative discipline referrals?”

    That can only happen if teachers refer them disproportionately, which can only happen if teachers are racists, right?

    • JND: Yes, of course. Because the possibility of different populations having statistically different profiles of ANYTHING is non-existent. I mean, I’m sure all the blond haired Japanese I met on a daily basis when I lived in Tokyo were born that way.

  3. What if they account for a disproportionate share of alternative discipline referrals? They will – it is (unfortunately) the nature of public education. That said, this is a step in the right direction – at least they’ll remain in school.

  4. If it were me and I had a student(s) who constantly disrupted class, cussed out the teacher, verbally assaulted their classmate, etc. I would drive them over to the school board members house and tell them to “develop positive alternatives”….and let me know how it goes.

    • I would have some respect for teachers’ unions if they used their power to make sure schools are safe, classrooms are orderly (there’s a difference between school, juvenile hall and jail and some kids belong in the latter settings) and students are grouped by instructional need (“differentiated instruction” is a fantasy), with “least restrictive environment” (IEP) defined in a reasonable manner. But, they don’t and I don’t .

      • I have to respond to you. I’m a mom of 3 and also a union president. I became a teacher in 2001 and I never thought I would be the head of a local union. My local has been pushing safety concerns for the past two years as we have seen assaultive behaviors rise, both on students and staff. Just this past Wednesday, the Solano County Grand Jury issued a report, which confirmed much of the issues and concerns we have been pressing our district on.

        It is now being spinned by the district and by those who seem to be unwilling to accept that an independent group verified what teachers have been reporting. In fact, one person that I spoke to stated that she was upset that this report was done by a group of older white people. The grand jury spent two years investigating.

  5. On Friday I had two students tell me “[email protected] you” and walk out of my room in front of the rest of the class. On Monday they will be back in my room laughing at me.

  6. BadaBing says:

    I’m with you on this one, momof4.

  7. Richard Aubrey says:

    What do you do when the kid willfully defies the restorative justice strategy?

  8. Elizabeth says:

    I now believe you teachers have the absolutely worst job in the US.

    • It’s worse than you think – K-12 students can threaten, assault, and even seriously injure teachers / destroy their property (i.e., their car in the parking lot) and the whole time they do so KNOWING they’ll get away with it! And if the teacher dares defend themselves, *they* go to jail. The teachers (along with their cousins the custodians) are the most bullied people on most K-12 campuses… Our society is completely backwards now.

  9. Did any of you actually read this article and the definition of “willful defiance”? Or did y’all just jump on the “Teaching is such a disrespected career” bandwagon? “Willful defiance” – as defined in this article – is refusing to take off a hat, turn off a cellphone or failing to wear a school uniform. NONE of these things should be expellable offenses. I think y’all are just missing the NON-AGGRESSIVE, NON-VIOLENT nature of those things classified as “willful defiance”.

    • Yeah, we read the article. I’m not sure where you got the idea that willful defiance is non-aggressive, but it wasn’t from the article, and it wasn’t from your dictionary. We’re more worried about the disruption “willful defiance” has on our learning environments and how unfair it is to the other students. Thank God it’s non-violent, though.

    • Speaking as a parent who has had children in full inclusion classes, you are wrong. These are offenses that steal a lot of class time, and that makes them expellable offenses if they occur in a reg ed or honors classroom. The perp or special needs child should be moved to a more restrictive environment or an alternative setting so that the other 30-39 students in the classroom can have enough time to learn the academic material.