An Alternative to Suspensions

The Bergen Record featured a program that I helped create at Dumont High School.  The Suspension Intervention Program (SIP) is designed as a one-day behavioral reflection “seminar” that includes the following components:

  • Academic Time
  • Goal Setting/Evaluation Time
  • Community Service Time
  • Reflection
As the article outlines, we have seen a dramatic decrease in our suspension rate; 83 suspension were administered during the 1st ten weeks of 2006-2007 school year, while only 21 were administered during the same time this school year.  So far, we have had over 40 students go through the SIP.  Future data analysis will tell us if the behaviors have changed.
Although SIP has had  a dramatic impact on our suspension rate, what is more important is that we are trying to address the problem, not the symptom.  As all admins will tell you, students’ behaviors are a result of decisions they make based on underlying variables.  
SIP attempts to have the student address the reasons why school, attendance, or decorum has become unimportant to them. What SIP is not is a traditional ISS program whereby students just sit in a room and stare at the walls. One of the key elements during the reflection time is our use of the Ripple Effects software program.  I urge every middle school and high school admin to visit their website and read about the software.  It really is a great tool for us.  
What works for you in your schools?

Author: Michael Parent, Ed.D

Father, husband, school administrator in NJ. "Education cures poverty".

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