Texas Schools Still Suspending Pre-K thru Second-Graders

Children's advocacy groups say too many Texas students younger than second grade are receiving suspensions, in spite of efforts by state lawmakers to reduce those numbers.

Texas schools issued more than 64,000 in-school suspensions to students in pre-K through second-grade during the 2015-16 school year, and a majority were either black, male, in foster care or in special education. 

“Killeen ISD issued in that one year 2015-2016, 1,460 suspensions of these pre-K through second-grade kids,” says Stephanie Rubin with Texans Care for Children, which compiled the study.

“It could be zero-tolerance policies, it could be a lack of supports at the schools for young kids and for teachers.  I certainly think districts might look at this report, we hope they do and see if there are supports they need to try to address their suspension rate and reduce it over time.”

Rubin says suspending 4, 5, and 6-year-olds ignores underlying factors either at home or in the classroom itself.

“They're figuring out how they fit into school.  They're gaining some confidence and if they are suspended, especially if they are suspended repeatedly, that really sends a strong message to them that they don't belong and they're a troubled kid.”

Morgan Craven, who heads the school-to-prison pipeline project at Texas Appleseed, says suspending children that young only confuses them and sending them home doesn't help.

“You definitely have the reputation unfairly that kids can get as the bad problem child and that follows them from year-to-year, and not only does that follow them with their teachers it follows them with their peers.”

Craven says teachers and administrators need more training on how to explain to the child what they did wrong and why a certain behavior is unacceptable rather than separating them from their peers.

“When schools started adopting zero-tolerance policies or suspension policies it became a really easy way for teachers to not have to really deal with what was going on in their classrooms and simply remove a child.”

Some districts, like Houston ISD have banned suspensions altogether of students pre-K through second-grade.

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