What: Press Conference on High Suspension Rates in Norfolk Public Schools
New Date: Wednesday, October 23 from 2 – 2:30 p.m.
Where: Norfolk Public Schools Administration Building (800 City Hall Ave., Norfolk VA 23510)
Norfolk, Va. — Virginia Organizing members, parents, workers, and community allies will convene at the Norfolk School Board building on Wednesday, October 23 at 2 p.m. to hold a press conference. They will address the high suspension rates in schools last year, and roll out their list of demands to the Norfolk School Board.
In the 2017-2018 school year, 4,173 students received short term suspensions. That is 14 percent of the total student body. Last year, despite promises of change from the Norfolk School Board, the number increased to 4,641, or 16 percent of the student body. Students of color were four times more likely than white students to receive suspensions, and students with disabilities received twice as many as students without disabilities.
The Norfolk Chapter of Virginia Organizing has come up with a list of eight policy changes that they believe will reduce the number of suspensions and hold the school board accountable for their promises:
- In-school suspension in all schools
- Good pay and training in restorative practices for in-school suspension instructors
- Trauma-informed care in all schools
- More teacher trainings in:
- Implicit bias
- Student engagement
- De-escalation training
- More counselors in all schools
- Increased screening and diagnosis of second graders
- Monthly updates on external audit of special education program at school board meetings
- Monthly updates from bullying coordinator at school board meetings
Two parents of Norfolk Public Schools students will be speaking at the press conference.
“My daughter has Autism, and has also been labeled as gifted,” says Carter Melin, a member of Virginia Organizing.
“As a Norfolk public school student, she was given out of school suspensions, removed from the district, and was contracted at age 12 to a private school which can accept juvenile offenders, emotionally disturbed children, and sex offenders. I am extremely concerned that the Norfolk Schools graduate special education students at half the national rate, and consistently miss the majority of the annual State Special Education Targets,” Melin added.
Christy Allston is also concerned about the harsh treatment of students.
“My daughter is in high school and coaches the middle school basketball team. She was put in handcuffs after school last year for being on middle school property after their team’s practice. She has also been suspended in high school for talking back to a teacher.”
To interview a spokesperson about this event, contact Meghan McNamara at 847-922-1213 or email@example.com.