As a part of his reform program, including the addition of multiple new magnet programs across Dade County, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced at the Opening of Schools Address, that he will be permanently removing outdoor suspension. Instead, he is pursuing an approach to ensure school attendance.
“[Outdoor suspension] guarantees either a failure to graduate or a failure to graduate on time …. You can, in fact, decommission outdoor suspensions and replace them with educational activities that maintain students on track towards graduation,” Carvalho said.
This new approach will focus more on helping address students’ behavioral problems directly, instead of applying direct consequences.
Outdoor suspension meant that students were sent home for a period of time and teachers were expected to provide make up work and grade their work while they were away.
“[Outdoor suspension] isn’t a punishment. It makes kids stay home. I would love to be forced to stay home,” sophomore Angelica Torres said.
“We come to school to learn and shouldn’t be taken out of school for days to learn a lesson. [There are] other ways to teach kids lessons for their actions,” sophomore Lynsey Rumbaut said.
In fact, research by Duke University has shown that suspension is only substantially helpful for “providing temporary relief to frustrated school personnel” and “removing a problematic student from school” among others.
Instead, higher rates of suspension are “related to higher rates of future antisocial behaviors and involvement in the juvenile system.”
The research also goes on to show that suspension does not improve the overall school safety.
Suspension is also associated with lower academic performance, high dropout rates, and a general dislike towards the school environment.
Instead, Carvalho intends to build sites where suspended students will attend instead of staying home.
These centers, which are being called “Student Success Centers,” will be proctored by teachers and social workers, all working to make sure suspended students are punished without being barred from their education.
Currently there are nine sites and two types of centers: regional centers and centers located in respective schools.
The regional centers are located in Hialeah, Miami Gardens, and Perrine.
The only schools that offer these centers are Andover Middle, Madison Middle, Paul Bell Middle, Riviera Middle School, 5000 Role Models Academy, and Homestead Senior High School.
Miami Dade county is one of the first counties to have replaced outdoor suspension with “Alternative Education,” with more counties that will probably soon follow.
Although no one is sure how successful Carvalho’s initiative will be, this change will hopefully dispel the the amount of disciplinary action that will need to be taken by Miami-Dade school administrations and improve the education that students recieve.