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Report: Suspension, expulsion rates down in many local schools

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Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014 12:00 am

More than 16 percent of Lodi Middle School students were suspended last school year, according to figures released statewide Wednesday. The rate is the same as the 2011-12 school year — and quite a bit higher than the statewide rate of 5.1 percent.

However, the fall in the school’s expulsion rate — from 0.4 percent to 0.2 percent — between the two years is consistent with the statewide trend.

Across California, the total number of expulsions decreased by 12.3 percent, from 9,758 in 2011-12 to 8,562 in 2012-13, as more schools and districts put into place measures designed to keep young people in the classroom and learning, according to a news release.

The total number of suspensions — either in-school or out of school — dropped 14.1 percent, from 709,596 in 2011-12 to 609,471 in 2012-13.

Some students may have been both suspended or expelled multiple times, and some incidents may be composed of several different offenses, state officials said.

Elsewhere in Lodi Unified, the suspension rate decreased substantially, from 20 percent to 11 percent at Millswood Middle, as did the expulsion rate, from 2 percent to .2 percent.

Tokay High Principal Erik Sandstrom credits drops like these to the Lodi Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention program which, he said, has definitely helped reduce gang issues that are often involved in any suspensions or expulsions.

And in Galt, the suspension rate drop was also noteworthy, from 7 percent to just 2.1 percent. There have been no expulsions in the last two school years, according to state data.

Still, some rates have not changed that dramatically.

Close to 10 percent of Lodi High School students were suspended last school year, compared to 8 percent the previous year. And at Tokay High, last year’s rate was 6 percent compared to the 2011-12’s rate of 7 percent.

Expulsion rates for both high schools last year were 0.4 percent, a drop from Lodi High’s 0.8 percent the previous year and Tokay’s 0.9 percent.

At Tokay, Sandstrom said administration is working with their own peer conflict mediation program in a proactive manner, getting peers to work with students before issues come to the extent where students take things too far and end up doing something that gets them suspended. This might include talking out frustrations with fellow students instead of resorting to violence.

“(We’re) just working on the proactive things so students don’t become reactive in a negative way,” he added.

Districtwide, the suspension rate has dropped slightly, from 8.5 percent in 2011-12 to 7.8 percent last year; expulsions also went down, from 0.3 percent to 0.2 percent.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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