March 6, 2012
State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Responds to Federal
Report on Student Suspension and Expulsion Rates
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today applauded efforts by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to shed light on the problem of excessive use of suspension and expulsion of students as a disciplinary tool in the nation's schools.
"Collecting this data helps us start crucial conversations at the local school level to ensure disciplinary practices are carried out fairly and equitably," said Torlakson. "I encourage all local educational agencies to continue to collect and analyze their suspension and expulsion data to determine whether their current practices are meeting the needs of their students, keeping in mind that the objective is to keep as many students as possible in a learning environment. We encourage all districts and sites to continue to seek behavioral interventions and options other than suspension and expulsion as a means of addressing student behavior."
Under state law, suspending or expelling students is the responsibility of the local school district. California is in the process of collecting more detailed student level data when reporting suspension and expulsion reports, as part of the state's conversion to the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System.
County and school district superintendents are required by state law every three years to develop Countywide Plans for Expelled Students and submit them to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. These plans outline educational alternatives for expelled students, identify gaps in educational services to them, and develop strategies for filling those service gaps. The plan also identifies alternative placements for expelled pupils in community day school programs, but who fail to meet the terms and conditions of their rehabilitation plan, or who pose a danger to other students. The goals of the plan are to:
- Ensure that expelled students have appropriate options;
- Decrease the dropout rate;
- Increase the graduation rate; and
- Close the achievement gap.
To view the OCR suspension and expulsion report, please visit New Data from U.S. Department of Education Highlights Educational Inequities Around Teacher Experience, Discipline and High School Rigor | U.S. Department of Education [http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/new-data-us-department-education-highlights-educational-inequities-around-teache] . For California's suspension and expulsion report, please visit DataQuest. For California's Countywide Plans for Expelled Students, please visit Countywide Plans for Expelled Students - Educational Options.
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Tom Torlakson —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100