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Kids or criminals

By Lisa Brody
News Editor
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Rochester Schools, with almost 15,000 students, had 371 one-day suspensions during the 2015-16 school year, 132 three-day suspensions, 67 five-day suspensions, 22 10-day suspensions, and 11 long -erm suspension/expulsions.

"The immediate objective of school discipline is to allow for student growth in abilities, attitudes and habits, which are essential to the personal and collective learning environment," Grein said.

Birmingham Schools had no expulsion in the 2015-16 school year, but had eight five-day suspensions and two 10-day suspensions for serious offenses. Wilkinson said there were some one-day suspensions for minor transgressions like "insubordination."

As an antidote to suspensions and expulsions, Bloomfield Hills, which had no expulsions in the 2015-16 school year, has hired former administrator Bill Boyle to help the district implement restorative practices at all levels. Boyle said he is helping staff and students work to develop a more inclusive culture of belonging. He said that often when punishment is meted out, the assumption is that someone did something wrong, they're a bad person.

"It's a way of calling out the deed, but not the doer, teaching the thing that makes something harmful has an impact to the community around them," Boyle explained. "How do you construct a learning a opportunity so they can learn from the situation. It's not saying there's no discipline or consequences, but once they're branded as bad kids, that follows them through school for life. If you only suspend them, they never have a way back into the community." ­

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