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RSS institutes new short-term suspension program

By Steve Huffman
Salisbury Post
A program introduced Monday to members of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education targets students who have been given short-term suspensions.
The program begins March 10 at Henderson Independent High School. It offers an educational alternative to high school students who have been given suspensions ranging from five to 10 days.
Board members got details of the program at their monthly meeting.
Through the program, students who have been suspended will report to Henderson, where they’ll be required to stay abreast of their studies. Students who participate in the program ó initially, it’ll be limited to 15 ó may also have the opportunity to reduce the lengths of their suspensions.
Educators said Monday that participants may see a 10-day suspension reduced to five days and a five-day suspension dropped to three.
Better still, it keeps students from wasting the terms of their suspensions at home or wandering the streets.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a cure-all,” said Dr. Walter Hart, assistant superintendent for administration. “I think it’s a step in the right direction.”
He said students taking advantage of the program will be placed in a room where they’ll have access to a computer to continue their studies. Supervision will be minimal, with no additional staff hired as part of the program.
Dr. Jim Emerson, school board chairman, said the program may keep students who have been suspended from dropping out of school. He noted that with the block schedules that local high schools follow, a 10-day suspension is the equivalent of 20 days under the old schedules.
“I don’t see how anyone can be suspended for 10 days and still graduate,” Emerson said.
Dr. Judy Grissom, school system superintendent, agreed that that’s often the case.
“They just can’t catch up and often drop out,” she said of students who receive 10-day suspensions.
Ken Sherrill, principal at Henderson, said he’d worked in other school systems where similar suspension programs were offered and the response was favorable.
“I can’t think of a time when parents turned it down,” he said. “They loved it.”
The short-term suspension program was presented to board members only for informational purposes. No vote on the matter was required.
Only board member Kay Wright Norman questioned anything about the program.
She noted that transportation to Henderson will not be provided by the school system, meaning that some students may not be able to take advantage of the program because they don’t have a ride.
Tim Smith, the school system’s director of student services, said students participating in the program won’t be twiddling their thumbs.
“They will not be sitting there idle,” he said. “They’ll be very busy.”
Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or shuffman@salisburypost.com.

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