BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Public School system has had 17 days in the classroom this school year, and more than 200 students have been suspended during that time.
An average of 13 students are being suspended each day so far this school year. While the number 200 may be alarming to most parents this early in the school year, Larry Scott, Member-at-Large on the Buffalo Board of Education, says it shouldn’t be.
“We've seen a reduction compared to last year, so that's a good start for us,” he said.
But according to Sam Radford, the co-chair of the parent advocacy group We The Parents, that’s not good enough.
“If that's the metric that we're using, we're in trouble already,” Radford said.
And it’s a problem that he says has been going on for almost a decade.
“A suspension is not a solution. When you suspend a child from school, how does that solve anything,” Radford said.
Radford says all suspensions do is take kids out of the classroom during crucial learning periods.
“When you have a child missing five, 10, and 15 days, in kindergarten through third grade, they start falling back, and they don't catch up,” he said.
But it’s not just the number of suspensions.
Back in 2020, the New York State Attorney General's Office launched this investigation into how minority students are allegedly suspended at a higher rate.
And this school year, that’s still the case, as Black students are being suspended at more than twice the rate of white students.
“Historically, and unfortunately, urban districts, suburban districts, as well, have had this disproportionality by race and by students with disability as well. So that is something we continue to work on,” Scott said.
Scott wants parents to understand that they’re not trying to suspend students unless they have to and the district is taking steps to address these behavioral issues by hiring more support staff and looking into alternative forms of punishment.
“We’re teaching our kids how to manage their anger, how to interact appropriately with others, taking the time to do that, and not just teaching math and English and social studies and science,” he said.
Radford and We The Parents also say the suspension numbers are higher because parents aren’t informed on what to do if their child gets suspended, so he’s holding an event tomorrow at Northland WorkForce Training Center in Buffalo with attorneys available to better educate them on these situations.