Disruptive students require isolation

There have always been students who persist in disrupting the education of others.  For decades, the strategy has been to suspend them.  Only recently has restorative justice been used in its place (“Restorative practices may not be the solution, but neither are suspensions,” the conversation.com, Feb. 5).

A new study by RAND looked at restorative practices in Pittsburgh schools and concluded they were not as effective as its proponents have asserted.  That does not mean, however, going back to suspensions, which have their own problems.  Instead, I propose removing disruptive students and placing them in special isolated classrooms that are supervised.

Once placed in these rooms, students can still be given assignments to complete but without the opportunity to deprive their peers who want to learn.  Students will quickly learn that there is no payoff for their behavior.  Yes, some will drop out of school.  But that is a small price compared to the price the vast majority of students pay when they are held captive by incorrigible students.

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2 Replies to “Disruptive students require isolation”

  1. “In-school” suspensions — which I believe are what you are advocating — is obviously the best answer to the problem of the student who engages in persistent but not physically-threatening misbehavior. My guess is that school systems are reluctant to implement the in-school-suspension approach because it costs more than the traditional out-of-school-suspension approach — the school system must provide one or more classrooms and one or more adults to monitor the classrooms + the suspended student’s teacher(s) probably have to make more of an effort to provide assignments/review work for in-school-suspension students than for out-of-school-suspension students (who, I guess, largely disappear for the duration of the suspension).

    Not sure what happens to the in-school-suspension student regarding the suspended student’s participation in non-academic school activities — like lunch, sports, extracurricular activities — during the suspension. If the suspended student is able to participate in these activities, then the deterrent value of the in-school suspension is significantly reduced.

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  2. Labor Lawyer: Principals are reluctant to suspend students either in-school or out-of-school because they reflect badly on their leadership. In-school suspensions do require assigning a teacher to supervise and a suspension room. That’s why out-of-school suspensions remain the usual practice. I don’t think suspended students in either case should be allowed to participate in sports or any other school activity. Moreover, they need to be given lunch away from their peers. Whether the latter is the basis for a lawsuit is hard to know, but protecting other students who want to learn should be paramount.

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