HISD suspensions policy

Here is a sample letter to send to HISD Trustees about banning the use of suspensions with HISD pre-K through 2nd grade students:

Dear Trustee,

I am writing you today to ask you to support the ban on suspensions for preschool through second graders as it was originally worded, without amendment. This policy is extremely important to Houston ISD parents and students.

I ask you to support this policy for the following reasons:

  • Suspensions are applied disproportionately to students of color and students with disabilities. According to OCR’s 2006 data collection for the 2005-2006 school year, African-American students were nearly three times as likely to be suspended and 3.5 times as likely to be expelled than their white peers. Students with disabilities are suspended and expelled at a rate roughly twice that of their non-disabled peers. HISD’s own data reflects these disturbing gaps in the application of policy.

  • There is no research to support the idea that student behavior improves with exclusionary discipline practices. In fact, research shows that student behavior problems are more likely to be exacerbated and decrease the student’s chances for success in school later.

  • Research shows that suspensions damage the teacher-student bond and bonds with other adults in the school setting. Children need to develop these bonds in order to be successful in school.

  • Suspensions are not developmentally appropriate for 4-7 year olds as they have not yet developed the cognitive skills necessary to understand the punishment.

  • Doing away with suspensions has been done in other districts and schools across the country and has been successful.

Suspension is not a tool in the discipline toolbox. It is an ineffective, discriminatory practice that creates much bigger problems and must be eliminated now. There are societal consequences of using suspension for discipline, which include setting children on a negative path and exacerbating inequality.

As an informed voter, I am aware one of the main reasons this policy failed passage in November was because the Board of Trustees was concerned there were not enough resources in place to support this policy change. I urge you as Trustee to remember that the Board controls the budget and can put forth more resources to support this initiative. This particular item is only one of many reasons that more holistic supports such as social workers, counselors and school psychologists need to be present on EVERY campus. This policy is the right one for the district and the Board should pass it because it is the right thing for our youngest children.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

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