Our Stories

South L.A. Schools Are Swapping Student Suspensions for Better Support

Too many students face discipline or even suspension for behavior issues that start at home. It's part of the "pushout" crisis of students leaving early, and it especially affects African American students.

Now South Los Angeles schools are leading the way to support students with behavioral issues so they stay in school. They are setting ambitious goals to reduce suspensions and implement a research-based policy with proven results.

It's a result of intensive meetings over the past year between LA school officials, Public Counsel, public interest law firm Mental Health Advocacy Services, Inc., and CADRE, a South L.A.-based parent group.

Roslyn Broadnax, a graduate of South L.A. schools who raised seven children there, said she feels "great" about the schools' action. "It shows that somebody is listening and recognizing there is a problem."

Broadnax goes to bat for other students like a 4th-grader recently facing expulsion from her school. When she and other organizers from CADRE started asking questions, they found out the girl's behavior problems flared after her father was arrested in front of her. "She was her daddy's girl, and that's why she was acting out," Broadnax said. "We asked the principal, 'Do you know what having this on her record will do to her?'" The girl stayed in school and is now on track to graduate.

“When you stop the kneejerk reaction of kicking children out of class and out of school and start engaging them and consistently teaching them alternative ways to interact and socialize, amazing things can happen,” said Laura Faer, Education Rights Director at Public Counsel.

Click here to read more about Los Angeles schools step forward on positive behavior support.