December 6, 2006
By RACHEL GOTTLIEB, Courant Staff Writer
Faced with a report showing there were 13,159 suspensions from Hartford schools last school year - 131 more than the previous year - the school board on Tuesday gave the new superintendent tight deadlines to develop plans to train teachers in classroom management and reform the system that sends students home to serve their suspensions.
A district report released Tuesday also shows that 5,487 students accounted for all the suspensions in 2005-06 - 53 more than the previous year. Many of the students were suspended multiple times. And 138 students were expelled; an increase of eight over the previous year.
Board member Andrea Comer, chairwoman of the board's safety and order task force, pushed former administrations to develop an alternative program to outside-school suspensions to no avail. Finally, she said Tuesday, it was time for deadlines.
The board approved a motion giving Superintendent of Schools Steven J. Adamowski 90 days to develop a plan to create in-school suspension programs staffed with certified teachers in every school, and to create a training program for administrators and teachers to improve their classroom management techniques.
Adamowski also has 120 days to develop a proposal for an outside suspension program staffed with teachers and to prepare an analysis showing what the plan would cost. The new plan is to be ready for implementation in September.
Currently, according to task force data, 20 of 40 schools in the district have inside suspension programs, but many of those programs are run by staff people that are not certified as teachers.
"Many students view outside suspension as a vacation from school," according to the resolution developed by Comer's task force. "This is particularly true when the student spends the suspension hanging out on the street or alone at home with parents or guardians at work."
Adamowski said he shared the board's concerns about the high number of outside suspensions and commended Comer for her perseverance in keeping the matter before the school board and insisting on action. "We have an attendance problem," he said. "A good portion of it is attributable to suspensions."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at