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Florida works to reduce public school suspensions

There are many situations that may lead a child to drop out of school. Illness, family circumstances, drug use and boredom are just a few reasons why a student may decide to leave school. When a child does not graduate, it is likely he or she will find struggles and economic hardship ahead. This is why public school administrations are urged to do whatever they can to help students stay in school and earn their diplomas. In Florida, this includes evaluating the use of out-of-school suspension.

Across the state, one out of every 16 students is suspended from school for some kind of disciplinary infraction. The U.S. Department of Education is asking principals to be more restrained and to find alternatives to suspension for some offenses. For example, those cases involving smoking, bullying, fighting or promoting gang affiliation now must be reviewed by a superintendent before a suspension is issued. Students who have drugs, alcohol or weapons, or who threaten, strike, sexually harass or assault another person on campus may still be suspended by the principal's authority.

Studies show that students who serve out-of-school suspension are more likely to drop out. In addition, being suspended increases a student's chances of becoming involved in criminal activity and decreases his or her chances of being employable. The serious impact a suspension can have on a student's life has caused Florida schools to take steps to reduce the routine use of out-of-school suspension as a form of discipline for non-violent infractions.

A disciplinary suspension is part of a public school student's permanent educational record. Having such a mark may damage that student's opportunities for being accepted into some colleges, awarded certain scholarships or accepted into the military, especially if the student drops out. Many parents do not realize they have the right to appeal when their children are suspended, but they must act within a certain amount of time. By contacting an attorney experienced in education law, parents can help preserve the rights and futures of their children.

Source: orlandosentinel.com, "Orange tries to limit out-of-school suspensions", Annie Martin, Jan. 4, 2017

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