AISD considers ending suspensions, expulsions for youngest students

(Brandon Wade/AP Images)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Monday the Austin Independent School Board of Trustees will decide if they should end suspensions for kids in pre-k through second grade.

The idea being proposed would provide help for students struggling in the classroom instead of sending them home. While researching the issue, AISD broke down the number of suspensions across all four grades over the last four years, which totaled 351 classroom removals.

AISD trustees will now look at a three-tiered approach to identify the root cause of the behavior and try to help the child deal with it. The first step would be prevention, which starts with understanding what is going on in the student’s life that might be resulting in a problem in the classroom.

The second is a targeted response that would involve a mental health professional, parents getting involved, and the development of a classroom peace area for the child. And third is the intensive response, which would get the associate superintendent involved, mental health resources outside the school, and specialists inside the classroom. The proposal also includes hiring an additional nine support staff members.

The changes would mean no child under third grade would face home suspension, placed into the alternative education program, or expulsion. However, because of federal law students who bring a weapon, drugs, or make terroristic threats could still be placed on suspension.

Child psychiatrist, Dr. Julie Alonso-Katzowitz with Dell Children’s Medical Center believes the new approach could be very beneficial to a young kid having problems.

“The first thing is to understand what other things are going on in the child’s life, what might be going on at home what kind of stressers are there, socially what’s going on in the community or in their environment that we might be able to help as well. The second is getting the child therapy earlier rather than later that is really important,” says Dr. Alonso-Katzowitz.

The trustees are slated to take up this topic at 9:30 p.m. If it passes, the new approach will start during the next school year.

Trustees will hear public comment before they vote. Those wishing to speak can sign up at AISD headquarters beginning at 1 p.m.

 

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