Officials say more than seven thousand Louisiana students in kindergarten through third grade were suspended last year. Senate bill 54 would prevent schools from suspending or expelling young elementary students.
The bill lists alternatives to suspension and expulsion that include a loss of privileges and referring to counselors or social workers. The purpose is to seek other forms of disciplinary action that would keep students in the school system. As an educator, Francesco Crocco agrees. He says schools should try to find the root of the problem.
“I think they need to engage the teachers the parents and the students and obviously the administrators and try to figure out what the problem is and how to solve it. It seems like suspending or expelling is a one size fits all that doesn’t really fit.””
Monica hayes believes some instances, like physical altercations call for suspension. she says her son was punished for reacting to a bully at his school.
“The child who hit him did not get suspended…I think that’s ridiculous when it comes to bullying and physical abuse no matter what grade they should be suspended.””
But Crocco is concerned with the long term effect of suspending young children.
“What are their life opportunities going to be like what kinds of problems are we setting up for the future? It seems like we’re just punting the ball a bit…wait until they’re sixteen or eighteen, you know, what kind of trouble will they be making then?””
The bill would not bar schools from removing young students that pose a safety risk.