Amherst (Mass.) superintendent favors near-elimination of suspensions

Lauren Williams's picture
Thursday, December 12, 2013

Superintendent Maria Geryk told the Amherst-Pelham regional school committee Tuesday that she hopes to nearly eliminate students’ suspension as a punishment in favor of more effective methods of classroom control.

The change would help address disproportionate discipline rates between white students and students of color. According to a report presented to the regional school committee, more students of color are suspended than white students in middle schools and high schools both in Amherst and statewide. The report showed the percentages for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years, and the current school year through Dec. 1.

At Amherst Regional High School, 65 percent of out-of-school suspensions during the 2011-2012 school year were given to of students of color. That declined to 58 percent in 2012-2013, according to the report presented by Michael Morris, director of evaluation and assessment for the Amherst public schools.

Ideally, Morris said, the proportion of students of color who are suspended would be the same as white students.

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