Missouri school reacts to suspension bill

Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 4:12 AM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - A proposed Missouri bill, House Bill 159, is looking to find other ways to deal with misbehaving students, banning suspensions or expulsions for students grades preschool through third grade.

Lewis County C-1 School District superintendent John French said it’s rare for them to suspend students as they are already working to deal with bad behavior without resorting to suspensions.

Highland Elementary School principal Larry Post said they have staff build relationships with the students so they can tell if a child’s mood is off and address issues before they become a problem.

“Our main goal, we are here to educate,” he said. “We’re hear to try and help students advance in their education and their learning process, help them be successful here at school but we also know that some of those basic needs need to be met before they can really truly focus in on their education and so trying to meet some of those basic needs, again, come from the relational standpoint.”

He said this allows kids to come to a teacher if they do have a problem. He said they also have guidance counselors, and a recovery room for students as well who need to talk or unwind.

French said he has concerns with the bill. He said when they do suspend a student, the bill would require them to include student information like as race, ethnicity, disability category, grade level or if they qualify for free or reduced lunch for data purposes.

French said this can have privacy implications, especially in a district as small as theirs.

“Let’s say you only had, one or two incidents a year and now you’re marking that this one incident was, also a special-ed student and also a free and reduced lunch student and everybody knows there was only one student that that happened to because we’re a smaller school, smaller community,” French said.

French said that data would be publicly available on the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s website.

The bill is still a long way from becoming a law. French said he hopes the reporting requirements can get changed by then.

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