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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Suspension rates down in Pinellas



Given all the headlines about John Hopkins Middle, it might have seemed as if last school year was a banner year for student discipline problems in Pinellas. But a new report says while it was at Hopkins, it was not district wide.

The number of out-of-school suspensions in 2009-10 was down 12.1 percent from 2008-09, while the number of individual students suspended was down 9.7 percent, according to the district’s annual suspension report, posted late Monday.

In total, 9,751 students were suspended 19,701 times.

Overall suspension rates (the number of individual students suspended divided by school enrollment) dipped in elementary schools from 3.5 to 3.2 percent, and in high schools from 15 to 13 percent. They rose in middle schools from 16.4 to 16.9 percent.

Hopkins showed one of the biggest increases, its rate climbing from 19.4 percent to 31.1 percent. According to another report, 323 of the school’s 674 black students, or 47.9 percent, were suspended.

Suspension numbers can be an important clue, but take them with a grain of salt. High numbers can show a place spinning out of control, or one getting its house in order. Low numbers can mean an orderly school – or one that’s hiding problems.

The district released two related reports - here and here - that show suspension rates broken down for black and non-black students.

The reports come in the midst of a school board election in which student discipline is an issue, and while the district conducts training this summer for a new, district-wide discipline plan.

By all means, tell us what you see in the numbers, and what schools should be praised or red-flagged.

[Last modified: Tuesday, August 3, 2010 11:32am]


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