Miami-Dade County Public Schools officials will be at the White House on Wednesday to help “Rethink School Discipline.”
That’s the name of a national meeting of education leaders gathering to discuss discipline alternatives that keep students in school and out of the juvenile justice system. Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, Deputy Superintendent Valtena Brown and Chief Academic Officer Marie Izquierdo were invited to the policy discussion.
“Students who are not in school whether because they are absent or because they are suspended, don’t learn,” Carvalho said.
Miami-Dade County police agencies, including school police, recently were named the best in the state for issuing civil citations to juvenile offenders rather than arresting them. School police in Miami-Dade issue civil citations in 93 percent of cases, according to the report by Tampa-based Dewey & Associates, on behalf of a group of advocacy organizations.
The school district says it has also led the way when it comes to issues such as outdoor suspension, creating sites across the county where children who are suspended can attend rather than being left at home with nothing to do. Carvalho called suspension a “costly proposition.”
“It guarantees either a failure to graduate or failure to graduate on time, with a cost to society that we know all too well,” he said. “If we develop the right partnerships with community organizations, coupled with good policy, you can in fact decommission outdoor suspensions and replace them with educational activities that maintain students on track towards graduation.”
State data show Miami-Dade has among the lowest suspension rates in the state: about 10 percent. Neighboring Broward County is slightly lower, at eight percent.
However, there is still work to be done. Mirroring national trends, black students in Miami-Dade are disproportionally suspended, according to state data. While the student body is 23 percent black, they made up 38 percent of students who were suspended.
In a statement, the school district noted it is expanding the role of school counselors and implementing a program to reduce class size in certain schools.
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