By Rowan Moore Gerety
In the middle of the school year, Hayden Dallip was at home in Miami Gardens when he got a call from his seventh-grade daughter. “She was crying—she said, ‘Daddy, hurry up and come to the school.’ ” The phone call home came after a fight with another student. “I said, ‘what’s going on, what’s going on?’ She said, ‘Please come to the school because they suspended me,” Dallip recounted.
Dallip says administrators at Andover Middle School said his daughter would be suspended for 10 days, effective immediately—but the school didn’t give him anything in writing, as required by state law.
The suspension also came more than a year after a district-wide rule banning out-of-school suspensions, leading to an impressive drop in the district’s discipline data: from more than 20,000 suspensions in 2014-2015 to zero suspensions the very next year. You can look at the data yourself here.
Since the change went into effect, students like Dallip’s daughter are supposed to be referred to one of 11 so-called “Student Success Centers” throughout the district, where they can get counseling and academic support in lieu of being suspended.
“No one has ever mentioned that to me,” Dallip said when he learned of the district’s discipline overhaul. “That no students [are] supposed to get suspended anymore? Never, never, never, never,” he said. “And I’m pretty sure that most of those parents up there don’t know it either.”
The school principal didn’t return calls seeking comment. District administrators declined to do an interview for this story. Dallip, meanwhile, says his daughter served two 10-day out-of-school suspensions within a couple of months. WLRN has documented similar instances of off-the-books suspensions in the past, which the district called “isolated incidents.”