The first month of the new school year has not even been completed and already operatives are launching a red herring on Buffalo Public Schools. A press release was shared today about the BPS suspension rate for the month of September, claiming that it is the highest in New York State without any source to support such a claim. The New York State Education Department's publicly available data on suspensions does not include data beyond the 2019-20 school year.
Here are the facts. Per the publicly available BPS Data Dashboard with real time data on suspensions, less than 1% of BPS students have received a short-term or long-term suspension, since the start of the school year, 0.78% and 0.23%, respectively. In contrast, 99. 22% and 99.78% of BPS students have not received a short-term and long-term suspension, respectively.
As of September 28, 2022, BPS has had fewer students suspended compared to last year for the month of September.
Managing student behavior must be multifaceted. Buffalo Public Schools have made significant investment in Trauma Informed-Care, Restorative Practices, Culturally & Linguistically Responsive Initiatives, and Social-Emotional Learning. We have hired additional mental health staff and have a multitude of community-based organizations working in our schools and with our students and families.
School districts have an ethical and legal responsibility to keep students and staff safe. School districts have a legal responsibility under state regulations to respond to particular behavioral infractions, with a suspension, particularly if problem-behavior includes violence, threats, illegal substances, and weapons.
We need to find a balance between providing preventative and supportive practices AND clear and consistent expectations and consequences for problem-behavior. Parents must also be a part of holding our students accountable and ensuring safety in and around our schools.
I urge the critics and media to broaden the scope of their scrutiny and include charter schools and suburban districts. The last time this red herring on suspensions occurred, this is what I found on charter school suspension rates per NYSED (2017):
The same operatives are begging the NYS Education Department to release state testing results from last spring. They can't wait for the opportunity to again weaponize state test results against urban public schools, students, and staff.
This is the perpetual game that is being played. I urge the media to be diligent in challenging the promulgations being made, and avoid misleading and exploiting the public.
Buffalo Board of Education
***The thoughts and opinions shared in this blog series are mine, and mine alone.***