Friday, February 13, 2009

51 suspensions for SD 52 high schools

Just past the halfway mark of the school year School District 52 has issues 51 suspensions to high school students, 30 of them drug suspensions for the use of marijuana.

The details of the discipline file were provided to School District members at the most recent board meeting, providing a breakdown of the offenses and how they were dealt with by the administration departments of the two high schools.

The Northern View was the first to feature details of the report online, while the Daily News outlined the details in Thursday's paper.

Trustees learn about students' suspension over drugs
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Pages one and three

School District 52 has handed out 51 suspensions at Prince Rupert's high schools so far in the 2008-09 school year, 30 of which were a result of students smoking marijuana.

In a report delivered to the SD52 Board on Tuesday night, Assistant Superintendent Leah Robinson broke down the individual suspensions by reason for the suspensions, the date the suspensions were issued and their length, the grade level of the students, and even the gender and ethnicity of the suspended students.

Overall, there were 30 suspensions for marijuana use, eight for fighting, seven for bad behaviour, two for alcohol abuse, two for skipping class/swearing, and one for theft.

The data shows that of the 51 suspensions administered so far this year, 37 of the students were male, and 36 of the students were identified as Aboriginal.

Breaking down the suspensions by grade level, 13 of the students were in Grade 12, 13 were in Grade 11, 17 from Grade 10, three from Grade 9, and four from Grade 8.

The marijuana suspensions ranged from one to two weeks in length, with four of them being classified as indefinite. Most suspensions for fighting and behaviour issues ranged from two days to one week, with five classified as indefinite.

Robinson said she decided to use the Ministry of Education model for reporting suspensions, and said she chose to include whether the suspended students were Aboriginal at the request of the Aboriginal Education Council.

She cautioned against labelling any of the suspensions as "Aboriginal issues," because Aboriginal students make up more than 50 per cent of the SD52 student population. Whether the students were from Prince Rupert Senior Secondary or Charles Hays Secondary School was not included in the report. Robinson felt it was not an individual school issue but rather a district-wide issue.
Under the board's policy, any suspensions to do with substance abuse such as alcohol or marijuana require a re-entry meeting with Robinson before they can attend class again.

The meetings are typically fashioned on a restorative justice model, with the student's parents also in attendance along with any other affected individuals, and each person is given the opportunity to speak.

"When we look at the data, it's our young males who are shown most prominently," said Robinson. "Also of note is that we typically see more incidents occurring in the first two months of the school year, and then less as the year progresses."

The months of September and October each saw 15 suspensions administered. November and December each had eight suspensions, and only five were reported in January. Trustee Russell Wiens asked why no report for SD52's elementary schools was included, and Robinson said she had no problem preparing an identical document for the six schools, although she said the number of total incidents is much smaller.

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