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To: The School District of Philadelphia Superintendent and School Reform Commission
School District of Philadelphia Ban Suspensions of Our Earliest Learners
Institute a moratorium on out-of-school suspensions for nonviolent infractions for 1st-5th grade students.
Rectify the records of Kindergarten students who were suspended in the 2016-2017 academic year despite their own policy.
Why is this important?
According to Pennsylvania’s most recent Safe Schools Report, the District suspended 615 Kindergarteners, 1081 first graders, 1779 second graders, 2192 third graders, 2295 fourth graders, and 2260 fifth graders during the 2015-16 school year.
Worse, the District disproportionately suspends Black students, even though Black students are not more prone to misbehavior. According to the most recent Civil Rights Data Collection (“CRDC”) published by the U.S. Department of Education, Black students (male and female) in the District are 2.65 times more likely to be suspended at all, and 3.08 times more likely to be suspended multiple times, than their white peers.
Last year, the School Reform Commission agreed to stop pushing our youngest learners out of the classroom by banning the suspension of Kindergarten students. Although there has been a dramatic reduction in the suspension of Kindergarten students, problems remain. The District continues to suspend Kindergarten students despite their own discipline policy, and has refused to extend the ban to other early learners.
It is evident that this disproportionately affects households that live close to or below the federal poverty rate. Parents in these cases, often employed in low wage hourly positions subject to poor scheduling, non existent sick and personal leave policies, and little to no benefits, forfeit the family's income to care for their child. This creates economic instability and injustice for working parents who are attempting to provide for their families and build wealth, and therefore a cycle of disadvantaging the poor.