The following is a snippet of a conversation that I recently* had with a LYS Superintendent. *Note: The conversation occurred in April 2013.  It sometimes takes a while for a post to get published.

You’re a reasonable man, so who better to ask, “What would be a reasonable number of student suspensions days for a middle school with an enrollment of 800?”

SC Response Great question.  Let’s do the math. I would submit that it would be reasonable to expect that in a given year, 2% of the students would warrant a suspension. So that would be 16 students. 

Of those I would expect that 40% of them would be suspended more than once. Rounding up that would be 7 students.

3 of those students would do something to get suspended again. 

That would give you a total of 26 suspensions. 

If all were suspended for the standard (but totally unnecessary) 3-day sentence, that would add up to a total of 78 days.  Round up to 80 and that would be my maximum reasonable number.  But at suspension day 40, I would be in my principal’s office and he/she would be outlining his/her plan for regaining control of the school.  Anything less that 20 suspension days for the year and I’m giving my principal a pat on the back.

Regardless of the number, I am always monitoring and checking the discipline data to make sure that our poor and minority kids aren’t over-represented (which is always the case if no one is minding the store).

So what was your number?

715 suspensions for a total of 3,189 days of missed instruction. Up until today, this was considered reasonable.

SC Response There is a phrase that describes what you have inherited… Institutional malpractice.

Your middle school has an average suspension term of 4.46 days per incident. That’s asinine. It is also reducing your district’s revenue by about $92,000.00.

But in a rich (sarcasm) district like yours I’m sure you have money to spare.

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