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It is the mission of the New Hanover County NAACP Parents’ Council to advocate for children and their families.
Dear Members of the New Hanover County (NC) Board of Education,
For the past few years, the NHC-NAACP Parents’ Council has been tracking the use of disciplinary suspensions in New Hanover County Schools and researching the alternatives. We have noted that the students of color are suspended at much higher rates than white students, something which has been recently confirmed by the Community Relations Advisory Committee. What is also clear is the relationship between high suspension rates at particular elementary schools in NHCS and poor academic performance. Further, national data demonstrate that there is a high correlation between student suspensions in elementary school and the probability that a student will drop out before finishing high school.
This problem will be more acute as students return to school after an almost yearlong break due to the pandemic. Not only the learning loss but the lack of socialization so important at the elementary level will undoubtedly contribute to an increase of disciplinary concerns. It is clear that the disparity of school suspensions contributes significantly to racial injustice. If, as the Board has stated, it is committed to combatting systemic racism in our educational system, we think it is imperative to address this concern.
Therefore, we are asking the NHC Board of Education to change its Policy 4300 – Student Behavior Policies – to reflect the Board’s Strategic Plan goal of ending the use of in-school and out-of-school suspensions at the elementary school (Pre-K and K-5) level. We are further asking that this change in policy will be communicated to all elementary school administrators, teachers, and other staff and that NHCS provide training and resources to implement alternatives to suspension. Finally, we are asking that the NHCS administration track the rollout of this policy and provide quarterly updates to the public.
Specifically, with regard to Policy 4300, we ask you to
· add the following sentence (in bold) to the introduction of Section D of Policy 4300: “Violations of the Code of Student Conduct must be dealt with in accordance with the guidelines established in the school’s behavior management plan (see policy 4302, School Plan for Management of Student Behavior) and consistent with the School Justice Partnership.” In-school and out-of-school suspensions will not be used as a consequence for students in Pre-K and grades K-5.
· add restorative justice circles to the list of “other disciplinary measures or responses.”
George Vlasits, Education Committee Chair, NHC-NAACP