ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Other View: Use virtual learning for those kicked out of school

OPED-VIRTUAL-LEARNING-EDITORIAL-GET
A sign on display in windows of a business to show support for Oxford High School on Dec. 7, 2021, in Oxford, Michigan.
Contributed / Emily Elconin/Getty Images/TNS

Student suspensions and expulsions are skyrocketing since the deadly shooting at Oxford High School, as school officials practice increased vigilance to head-off any possible violence.

It's prudent to separate potentially dangerous students from the broader school community. But that doesn't mean their education has to come to an end.

The remote learning option developed during the COVID-19 pandemic should be used to keep troubled kids in class virtually.

That's a more productive approach than returning to the zero-tolerance policies that many districts are considering in an effort to protect students, teachers and staff.

Pandemic-era learning tools could be an effective alternative for keeping suspended students engaged in learning while their behavioral issues are being addressed.

ADVERTISEMENT

Prior to the wave of school shootings that began in the 1990s, school districts had relative autonomy over student discipline, as long as punishments weren't arbitrary or capricious.

It was in the late '90s that zero-tolerance policies found their way into schools. Under these policies, school districts listed in student handbooks what kinds of punishments would be dispensed for specific rule violations.

In 2017, Michigan passed a law intended to move school administrators away from formulaic disciplines because statistics showed schools disproportionately suspended and expelled students of color.

Michigan doesn't require districts to offer full-time learning opportunities for suspended students. That needs to change considering an increased number of kids who are acting out in classrooms after two years of largely remote learning.

Even before the tragic shooting at Oxford, expulsions and suspensions were on the rise. The Student Advocacy Center of Michigan reported 19 cases involving expulsions for September and October of this year compared to just three in 2019.

Cases involving suspensions longer than 10 days also saw a jump from four in 2019 to 27 in the first two months of this school year, the group said.

Schools are reporting that since the Oxford incident there has been a spike in behavior that merits expulsion. Children as young as 12 face criminal charges for faking threats of violence. Dearborn's school district suspended 13 students in about as many days before the holiday break for such threats.

Students shouldn't get a pass for disrupting school or committing violent acts. The first responsibility of schools is to provide a safe learning environment.

ADVERTISEMENT

When it is necessary to send a child home for disciplinary reasons, learning should not end. Thanks to the pandemic, most districts have the tools and experience to move those students to online instruction until they are ready to safely return to the classroom.

The Legislature should act to require districts to use to use that online capability to continue the education of students who are under suspension, whenever it's possible to do so.

©2022 www.detroitnews.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

What To Read Next
People assume a default won’t happen, which serves to neutralize the deterrent effect — until one day, by accident, it does.
Whatever legacy McCarthy thinks he can cement as speaker will be a footnote to the headline of his having stood aside as the economy was shot by a handful of zealots.
On top of everything that has spilled out — actually, gushed out — regarding New York Republican Rep. George Santos, there’s this little tidbit: Republican officials were aware as far back as fall 2021 that he was a serial liar and fraudster. But Santos, 34, resisted warnings that he would embarrass himself and the party if he didn’t withdraw. Miscalculations abounded by both parties amid assumptions that the Santos problem would die as the scandals surfaced. But they didn’t. Then, to the shock and surprise of all involved, he won on Nov. 8.
Some tweaks to two holes at Soldiers Field Golf Course seem like a reasonable trade-off.