Last week, the Buffalo school district released its student suspension data for last school year. With the district overall taking more of an "intervention" approach to resolving student problems, rather than a punitive approach, short-term suspensions have fallen districtwide over the past several years. The district also approved a new Code of Conduct in the spring designed to reduce suspensions further.
But long-term suspensions for serious offenses have risen over the last two years. Moreover, certain schools have shown alarming increases in their short-term suspensions, as well.
Of particular note is Harriet Ross Tubman School 31. This elementary school, serving children in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, issued 666 short-term suspensions in 2012-13. While that number ('I'll try not to read into this any demonic signs) is high on its own, it's even higher in the context of the school's total enrollment. School 31 enrolled 455 students last year. That means many students were repeatedly suspended from the school last year. The year before that, the school suspended 573 children, so the number of suspensions actually rose over the last two years, contrary to the overall districtwide trend.
The principal at School 31, William Boatwright, has been reassigned this school year to Stanley Makowski Early Childhood Center No. 99. The new principal at School 31, Heather Short-English, comes to the district from Las Vegas, Nev., where she previously served as an assistant principal.
Aside from School 31, Hamlin Park School 74 and Math Science Technology Prep School 197 also showed alarming increases in their short-term suspensions, particularly in relation to their overall school enrollments.
Below is the suspension data provided by the district and broken down by school. Many of the columns on this report refer to suspensions that occurred in June of 2013. For the cumulative year-end data, look at the last two columns on the first two pages where short-term suspensions are shown. The letters "YTD" and "PrY" refer to "year-to-date" (2012-13 total student suspensions) and comparison numbers for the "previous year" 2011-12. To view these numbers in context, look at your school's total enrollment figure, which is listed as "Tot Enr" on the chart.
The third page of the document is a bar chart showing the districtwide short-term suspension trend. The fourth and fifth pages refer to long-term suspensions. On those two pages, you want to look at the columns similarly marked "YTD" and "PrY" for school-year totals.
The last two pages of the document break down long-term suspensions by type. The numbers in bold across the top of the sheets identify the school number. Be aware that the figures on these last two pages are only for the month of June 2013.
We're glad Will Keresztes, chief of student support, provided this information to the board and took the time to further explain it to us on Monday.