"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, January 07, 2013

DC Charters Kick Out the Problem Children and Keep the Compliant Ones

A clip from an investigative report by WaPo that details expulsion of 6 year old KIPP student:

. . . .Greenfield said the D.C. school system is far from perfect and too often relies on suspensions, including long-term suspensions of up to 90 days, to deal with bad behavior.

The city’s traditional public schools use long-term suspensions more often than charter schools, imposing nearly twice as many in the past academic year, according to school data. That year, 2011-12, 601 students were suspended from traditional schools for more than 10 days as punishment for a single incident; 327 charter school students received similarly long suspensions.

But unlike expulsion, suspension does not allow a school to give up responsibility for a difficult child, Greenfield said.

She pointed to the case of a homeless 6-year-old her organization represents. He attended three D.C. public schools in preschool and kindergarten before enrolling this academic year in first grade at a KIPP DC elementary campus, part of one of the highest-performing charter organizations in the city. He was expelled in September.

(Donald E. Graham, chief executive of the Washington Post Co., is a member of KIPP DC’s board of trustees.)

School records show that the boy was suspended for a day after throwing a kicking-and-hitting tantrum. His mother met with school staff members to devise a behavior-management plan for the child.

A few days after returning to school, he ran into trouble again— curling up on the floor, wetting himself accidentally and throwing another tantrum. Records show that the episode began in a classroom, where he scratched a child, and ended hours later in the principal’s office, where he threw objects, punched, spit and screamed.

Over the summer, the child had been found to have an adjustment disorder related to the stress and instability of living in poverty, his mother said in interviews with The Post, a diagnosis she divulged to school officials after the second tantrum. The Post is not identifying the family to protect the young boy.

“Our appeal to them was to basically not make this another school’s problem, and get the student some help within this system,” said the family’s attorney, Timothy Riveria of Advocates for Justice and Education.

The principal expelled the boy, and a panel of KIPP DC administrators upheld that recommendation, according to school records. The boy then enrolled at Payne Elementary in Southeast, the school closest to the homeless shelter where he lived. He attended that school until the family moved to Florida in late November.

KIPP DC’s chief executive, Susan Schaeffler, declined to comment on the case because of privacy concerns. . . . .

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