While student suspensions have decreased slightly in recent years, there still are too many kids losing valuable school days. Students are suspended in Ohio and Michigan at rates higher than the national average, and minorities, low-income students and those experiencing homelessness are suspended more than their peers.

Suspensions can have a negative impact on student outcomes, both short- and long-term. Studies show that students in schools with higher suspension rates were more likely to experience negative impacts on educational attainment and be arrested and incarcerated as adults. Suspensions are not only a learning issue, but also an equity issue. Students of color are more likely to be suspended and, in turn, suffer lost learning days and other negative consequences.

At FLEX, we see behavior problems as cries for help and handle them with a restorative justice discipline approach. This model fosters belonging over exclusion, social engagement over control and meaningful accountability over punishment. It is a program based on respect, responsibility, relationship-building and relationship-repairing. Our schools use mediation and agreement rather than punishment, and we allow the student to take responsibility for their actions, understand the consequences and have an opportunity to redeem themselves. These are important life skills that will benefit them throughout their adult life.

Written By:
Ann Abajian