DC high schools under-reporting suspension numbers

WASHINGTON — While school systems around the country look for alternatives to suspensions as a method of discipline, a number of high schools in the nation’s capital have been under-reporting its numbers according to The Washington Post.

D.C. Public Schools has said it reduced suspensions from 11,078 in 2013-2014 to 6,695 in 2015-2016 — a 40 percent reduction.

After reviewing attendance records, the Post reported at least seven of the District’s 18 high schools have kept students out of school for misbehavior, while in some cases labeling the students as present, attending an “in-school activity,” or absent without an excuse.

School officials stand by their numbers, saying they’re addressing misbehavior with “restorative justice” programs where students stay in school and are helped to work through conflicts.

Education experts say suspension rarely addresses bad behavior, and can lead to alienation, and sometimes, criminal behavior.

Schools across the country have felt pressure to reduce suspensions and expulsions in recent years after the Obama administration began investigating whether suspensions disproportionately affected black, Latino, and disabled students.

According to the Post, the schools where suspensions appear to have been underreported are: Cardozo Education Campus, Dunbar High, Washington Metropolitan High, Coolidge High, Eastern High, Luke C. Moore High and Woodson High.

The school system’s deputy chief of secondary schools said they are examining attendance data from the schools which appear to have underreported suspensions.


Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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