Pinellas officials to offer alternative for out-of-school suspensions
Amid backlash from the community for disproportionately disciplining minority students, Pinellas County Schools area superintendents have created an alternative to out-of-school suspensions.
District officials at Tuesday's school board workshop unveiled an option that would allow parents to send their child to an alternative district school to serve his or her out-of-school suspension rather than spend that time elsewhere and miss schoolwork. The alternative could prevent students from the risk of falling behind and dropping out of school.
Students could arrange to spend their suspension at a site that already offers supervision and guidance counselors, such as the district's Title I center, Clearwater Intermediate, Pinellas Secondary, Tomlinson Adult Learning Center and Bayside High. They will be able to work on classwork packets on all core subject areas provided by their teachers.
Officials said they hope to have the alternative available by the start of the new school year in August.
Area superintendents have already launched initiatives to soften the district's stance on discipline. They've begun limiting in-school and out-of-school suspensions to no longer than three days and banning out-of-school suspensions for nonviolent offenses.
On Tuesday, the school board approved policy changes that would allow suspended students to make up missed work without having their grades affected.
Board members had questions about logistics like transportation and convenient locations, but overall recognized the proposal could curb failure rates and keep students learning under supervision.
“I see something that looks promising,” said board member Rene Flowers.