Pubdate: Wed, 06 Jul 2005
Source: Valley Voice, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 The Valley Voice
Author: Lenora Trenaman
Bookmark: (Youth)


The School District #8 Board of Trustees adopted a controversial policy on 
the use of illegal drugs and alcohol at a recent board meeting.  They went 
ahead despite the objections of parents.

There has been much research that points to the ineffectiveness of 
suspensions as a form of discipline. The Ministry of Education's own 
document says that some of the unintended side-effects of suspensions are 
diminished self-esteem, diminished self-discipline, increased avoidance 
behaviours, decreased academic success, increased drop-out rate, increased 
stress level, increased anger levels, feelings of discouragement and 
increased risk of suicide.

Parents are also concerned that by using suspensions, the example set for 
other students is that the consequence for using illegal drugs and alcohol 
in school is a  holiday from school in front of the TV or Nintendo, or a 
chance to hang out downtown.  Students contemplating use need to see a 
consequence that forces them to address their issues and to take 
responsibility for their actions.  What kind of an example is a consequence 
that doesn't work?  The students that would be worried about being 
suspended probably aren't the ones that need the example anyway.

The school board should be developing a policy that encourages effective 
discipline, and support for our most vulnerable students. This policy does 
not do that.

It did not pass without dissent, though.  Two trustees expressed concerns 
that this policy conflicts with the Student Conduct and Discipline 
Policy.  One trustee was concerned that the board has not done research on 
whether the use of suspensions in this district has been effective.  She 
asked if students have learned their lesson after one suspension or are we 
getting repeat offenders. Both of these trustees voted against the adoption 
of this policy.

On Thursday, June 23 at the last DPAC meeting of the year, parents 
encouraged the DPAC executive to continue to lobby for a policy that 
focuses on alternatives to suspensions.

Parents have made it very clear that suspensions should only be used as a 
last resort.

Lenora Trenaman, DPAC President
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom