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Where to start on this one?

Frankly, what I'm ticked off with is the Ontario policy on out-of-school suspensions in elementary schools. The whole idea makes no sense to me. Study after study shows these suspensions to be more harmful in the long term than in-school programs. Unfortunately, the Toraliberal school funding program has meant such initiative are shot down or cut due to budgetary reasons. In the meantime students are being deny their education and assistance in avoiding repetition of their behaviours.

The other problem with out-of-school suspensions is that they frequently target kids with learning and/or emotional problems. Often these kids have a real disconnect between the incident and the punishment, and can perceive this is a rejection of them. If the child does not understand the connection between the crime and the punishment, the corrective measures will not work. In areas where help is available the out-of-school suspensions effectively deny students access to programs and increases the chance that the behaviour will repeat.

Additionly, some kids see suspensions as a way of avoiding school work that is beyond their abilities. In-school suspensions avoid this by having work assigned while being out of the classroom with help being available where necessary.

I also have a problem with the fact many kids will return to their classrooms with no follow-up action bring taken.

Resources are so tight in Ontario for higher elementary grade students that getting accessments can take years, in some cases, to complete, and even then there is a delay in getting resources to the student when their needs have been recognized. In the meantime they face suspensions for actions they have not developed an ability to control.

In my own case I'm dealing with my child having been suspended for the second time in a week. He has issues that the school is aware of but still was dealt with through out-of-school suspension (with no right of appeal). The second suspension (3 days) was dealt with through a combination of mornings at home and afternoons at school (if appealed, the suspension would be over before the case was heard). For the latter incident my child had no clue why he was in the office until the incident was discussed with him (even then there was a long period of denying it had even taken place). The one braying for suspension was the substitute teacher and the principal was looking for some way to appease both sides. I'm eager to have a plan in place but sincerely have my doubts that it will be in place anytime soon (despite years of talking). In the meantime my kid will suffer a gap between his abilities and the mandated curriculum which will compound the already tense emotional difficulties he faces.

This is the kid's 7th year in the Ontario system and, while his condition is recognized, it is an uphill battle to get resources and programs to keep him from slipping backward. Suspensions are not the solution in this case because he doesn't have the maturity to understand why the punishment has been given and what it is meant to accomplish. My firm belief is that this is no way to effect positive behavioural modification.


That's a really hard thing you're dealing with, 1weasel, and I'm sorry you're going through this with your kid. That's the problem with "zero tolerance" and one-size-fits-all problem solving methods when it comes to kids. They don't all fit the same mold. Even if he didn't have a "condition" of some kind, kids go through rotten stages sometimes, especially if they're coping with family issues or just having a particularly hard time adjusting to something or other.

I'm not sure what to tell you. I guess apart from trying to advocate for your child administratively through school, when it comes to actually dealing with the fallout from his suspension, I guess doing the best you can to try and nurture him at home is all you can do.

I wonder if there are resources out there for parents with kids who have been suspended from school? What do you DO with a kid at home who has been suspended? How do you deal with the emotional issues involved, and the challenge of keeping him occupied? And how do you nurture a child who has been suspended or expelled from school?

All questions that come to my mind when reading about this.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

I don't know if they can help but you can try.


saga saga's picture

Teachers who 'lose it' target the vulnerable as a scapegoat for their own loss of control, and often escalate or provoke a situation until the child reacts innapropriately.

Principals should be more willing to consider the teachers' behaviour as the problem, as it often is. However, it's easier to just blame and suspend the child.


Timebandit Timebandit's picture

saga wrote:

Teachers who 'lose it' target the vulnerable as a scapegoat for their own loss of control, and often escalate or provoke a situation until the child reacts innapropriately.

That's precisely the dynamic we're dealing with in my older daughter's case.  She's not learning disabled, but she's an incredibly bright kid with some hypersensitivity issues that can make her a little volatile to deal with.  We've had teachers who have some understanding of "gifted" education and have been able to handle her quirks, but this year we've got a newbie teacher who is quite the macho jock.  He makes her mad, she pushes his buttons, he grinds on her until she explodes and then continues to wind her up until she's hysterical.  We've had in-school suspensions (and no, they didn't give her any work to do, they just left her to sit outside the office for all to see and be humiliated and made fun of) and a day-long suspension.

 We've made a lot of progress in teaching her to handle her emotions better and in drawing some lines she isn't allowed to cross without consequence.  We've also offered advice on how to handle her better to reduce the blow-ups - let's face it, as long as button-pushing works with any kid, they're going to do it.  He consistently rises to the bait and then escalates the situation.  It's stupid little stuff -- going up the wrong stairwell, making noises under her breath, continuing to put on her coat when he says "Freeze".

We had a really bad episode last week, which I got to witness over the phone.  We're meeting with the principal and the counsellor (again!), but we're looking at taking it up the food chain.

Sending your kid to school shouldn't be this difficult.  It just shouldn't. 

Rexdale_Punjabi Rexdale_Punjabi's picture

all these zero-tolerance policies in schools do is what they do outside of it. Disproportionatly target ppl of color n ppl wit disabilities. That's all, when will ppl realize that?

Rexdale_Punjabi Rexdale_Punjabi's picture

the teacher should be suspended not ur daughter

saga saga's picture


Or he has to commit to changing his behaviour. 

Would adults accept being expected to freeze on command, in fear of punishment ... in a classroom?

Unnecessary, unreasonable control.

Assuming, of course, that your daughter's behaviour is unconscious, not intentional.

But in any case, he's the adult and he's responsible for the outcome.


Timebandit Timebandit's picture

No, my daughter's behaviour is intentional - kids, like other people, do what works.  If you're really bored and there's somebody you can get a rise out of that will create some diversion, you just might try it.  Mature?  Heck no, and she gets called on it.  When her teacher stops flipping out and learns to ignore it or react appropriately, in addition to the work we as parents are already doing, it will stop shortly thereafter.

However, I think finishing an action (in this case picking up a jacket and stepping into line) after being told to "freeze" is not a send-to-the-principal's-office sort of offense.  Wouldn't a quick mention that this isn't "freezing" do?  Does it have to escalate to the point where the remainder of the day is spent languishing in a hallway outside the office?  I don't think so.  I think it's an unreasonable reaction. 

It's unquestionably a control issue, but it's not just about classroom behaviour -- we've had the gall to ask for adaptations in class work, which is causing severe resentment.  The thing is, if you keep the kid engaged by providing the adaptations the consultant from the school board suggests, the incidence of small annoying behaviours decreases dramatically.  But he doesn't want to make adaptations, he wants her to just stop being annoying.  And we are terrible parents for not teaching her to sit still and be compliant better when she's bored spitless.  So the solution seems to be to punish it out of her, and using the suspension policy seems to be the favourite tool.  I think there ought to be more checks and balancees, maybe some more consideration on what sort of offenses rate a suspension at all.


Wow, Timebandit, I'm so sorry to hear your daughter is going through this.  That really sucks. 

School should be better than this.  I've been noticing a few issues myself this year, which has been a difficult one for my son with a school change and some outside issues.  It hasn't gotten to the stage your daughter's difficulties are at, but this is the first year that my son has consistently talked about not liking school, and it worries me.

Dr.Who fan

For those who are disgruntled with the educational system I would recommend reading any and all books by John Taylor Gatto.

Being schooled and being educated are two different things although I think most people think they are the same.  Whenever I read Gatto I am reminded how people think education is the great equalizer, and it is, but school is not.  Gatto goes on to explain how the schooling system that we currently have really enforces elitism, classism, etc.  It puts people into their places and there they stay, unless their will is stronger than the system's.  Anyways, I don't do his theories justice.  He has a lot more to say than what I have highlighted.

 As for dealing with the school system, my mother got no satisfaction with my sister who was having (emotional)problems.  It was all just lip service.  And my sister got labelled as a trouble maker that followed her from school to school .  It was a label that never left her for all the years that she was in school. 

Rexdale_Punjabi Rexdale_Punjabi's picture

exactly I can educate myself about shit dat matters fucc a school shitstem where all dat happens is I get searched by cops. Most ppl go to school to chill including me when I go fucc dat Im workin for something bigger