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Wake Co. group wants school district to ease suspension policy

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TWC News: Wake Co. group wants school district to ease suspension policy
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WAKE COUNTY -- Several Wake County groups made up of parents and students are urging school leaders to lighten school policy on out-of-school suspensions. Community members feel that suspending students for minor offenses is too harsh.

"I think it's time for us to keep our word and truly take a restorative rather than a punitive approach to discipline and harm reduction," said Cary High School student Qasima Wideman.

Wideman is part of NC Heat, one of three groups that wore green while asking for a temporary stop to suspending students for minor offenses. Wake County's student code of conduct says students can be suspended for level one offenses like skipping class, using foul language or dressing inappropriately. School board members say there has been discussion recently about student discipline because of the school's high suspension rate.

"It's clearly an indicator that we have to work on discipline issues, on code of conduct as well as communicating with students on what expectations are as well as our teachers on what the expectations are when dealing with students," said Wake County School board member Christine Kushner.

More than 14,000 students in Wake County were suspended during the 2011-2012 school year. The maximum suspension for a level one offense is only two days, but the group feels taking students out of school puts them at a disadvantage.

"Now they're behind in school. Now who knows what they've done all day while they're bored and unsupervised at home. They need and they have the right to be in school," said Wake County school parent Bridgette Burge.

They made their voice heard Tuesday night and it appears board members are listening.

"We need to continue to be vigilant about looking at suspension rates and how we can reduce them," said Kushner.

The school board did not discuss school suspension policies at Tuesday's meeting but board members say it will be discussed at a future policy committee meeting.

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