To reduce the incidence of suspensions and expulsions, particularly for male students of color who are disproportionately impacted, Connecticut employed a Restorative Practices approach across its SS/HS districts. Baseline data indicated that statewide, male students were twice as likely to be suspended as female students, which was true for all racial and ethnic groups. Further, Black and Hispanic boys were 2-3 times as likely to be suspended or expelled as White boys, and Black and Hispanic girls were 4-6 times more likely to get such a sanction as their White counterparts. The connection between sanctions and chronic absenteeism was clear: approximately 40% of suspended or expelled White and Black students and 50% of suspended or expelled Hispanic students were also chronically absent. This report noted in the 2013-2014 school year, two LEA partners were among the school districts with the highest rate of suspensions and expulsions at all grade levels: elementary (Bridgeport 7.95%, New Britain 8.31%), middle (Bridgeport 21.83%, New Britain 26.52%), and high school (Bridgeport 29.59%, New Britain 37.68%).
Across the state and in participating SS/HS districts, chronic absenteeism decreased significantly over the course of the SS/HS effort. Suspensions and expulsions are included in absentee calculations, and are a particular focus of Connecticut SS/HS initiatives, especially as they seem to disproportionately affect minority students. All three SS/HS districts have at least somewhat higher rates of disciplinary actions than the state average, especially Bridgeport and New Britain. However, both Bridgeport and New Britain evidenced lower discipline rates in 2014-15 as compared to the previous year.
“The Beyond Diversity and 2-day Restorative Circle Training by the Suffolk University Center for Restorative Justice
was one of the best received Professional Development events our district has ever held, according to attendee feedback.”
Middletown Public Schools SS/HS Project Manager
All three SS/HS districts provided Restorative Practices training to their education staff, including Introduction to Restorative Practices, Using Circles Effectively, and Facilitating Restorative Conferences. These trainings align with other efforts to provide culturally responsive pedagogy and discipline, and to promote positive school climate.