A group of parents and school activists stood on the steps of City Hall today, outraged at the Buffalo School District's suspension policy and demanding changes.
"How do you address the issues of the students being in the halls, or the students having an issue? Just sending them home is not going to solve the problem. Suspending them is not going to solve the problem," said Sharae Green, who is a parent to a senior student at Lafayette High School.
But suspensions are a growing problem throughout the Buffalo School District. In February alone, school officials suspended 1800 students, and 2500 in March. Parents say the staggering number of suspensions and the reasons why are alarming.
"If you are in any type of business and 1800 or 2000 of your employees out of 35,000 was missing or laid off and not in school, then that should be a concern for everybody," said Eric Muhammad of the District Parent Coordinating Council.
"You can not ensure high academic achievement for a student who's been suspended one, two, three times and you've done nothing to address the underlying issue, especially when it's frivolous suspensions," said Sam Radford of the District Parent Coordinating Council.
Last Friday, 15-year old Jawaan Daniels was suspended from Lafayette High School for loitering in the halls. He was shot and killed at a bus stop shortly after being released from school that day. One thing parents and school officials agree on is that sending Daniels home was not the answer. Now the district is pledging to come up with better disciplinary actions that keep kids in school.
"The only thing suspension is doing is delaying the pain and the pain is student achievement. When you're not in school you can't learn," said Dr. James Williams, Superintendent of Buffalo Public Schools.
"You can suspend a child and leave them in and have them in school and have them do the work so that they're not losing the education that they're supposed to be getting," said Green.
The district is working on new suspension policies they hope to have in place by the start of the next school year.