Suspensions: lost in despair

The purpose of suspensions is to take a student out of an environment where a problem was caused or a problem is brewing. The goal of a modern school is to keep a child in a structured learning environment at all cost.

LaMon Jones is a Parnters for Youth Opportunity Intern writing for the Durham VOICE.

LaMon Jones is a Parnters for Youth Opportunity Intern writing for the Durham VOICE.

The idea of suspension is the exact opposite of what schools try to accomplish. I know because I’ve been there. An example of these shenanigans in my life is when I was in 8th grade and got suspended for two days for running in the halls after school.

To me this is an example of a devaluing of school suspensions.

In my eyes, schools should be able to have a system in which they are able to deal with any problem that comes up within the school.

To keep a kid out of school for things that can most likely be handled in school is abusive. Some examples of frivolous suspensions include profanity (not directed at anyone in particular), phones falling out of pockets (even in between classes) or having headphones out. School suspensions shouldn’t be used in most cases because nothing can replace a formal education.

There are no peer or professional mediations taking place between suspended kids and the schools. Expulsion is an extreme case-by-case punishment but it is needed in some cases. For instance if someone is being harmed emotionally or physically, suspensions might be needed. For reasons like this, suspensions should not be done away with, but dealt with on a case-by-case basis and only when the situation can’t be handled in school.

For instance, here’s an example of a silly expulsion at my school: a kid was expelled for having a box cutter in his car — but he worked the late-shift stocking shelves at a local grocery store and forgot the box cutter was in his car. It was never on his body inside the school.

This wasn’t worthy of expulsion.

Kids are subject to be suspended for anything. Leaving the class to use the restroom because your teacher won’t let you can be considered disturbing the peace.

Currently in school systems they try to generalize punishments for the majority. My take on it is the majority doesn’t exist. Everyone is different and has his or her own problems and deals with them in his or her own way. Nothing can be generalized due to the simple fact that no one is the same. If you try to generalize discipline you end up with a massive mess of people angry about why someone else got a different punishment than they did just because of minor and major factors.

Minorities often have the short end of the stick when it comes to suspensions. Stereotypes have given every minority a reason to avoid problems at school at all cost — even if it means not going to school by choice.

No one wants to be labeled for any reason.

When it comes to suspensions many factors don’t add up. Favoritism comes in to play in a lot of cases. If a kid knows an administrator then they have a better chance of getting off easy or avoiding suspension all together.

A troubled student, on the other hand, could get longer suspensions just because of their reputation. The fact is that what decides suspensions is so shaky that until a better system (a just system) is implemented; it shouldn’t be used at all.