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Stop suspending elementary-age pupils, advocates ask Philly schools

April 27, 2017 – Philadelphia Inquirer– by Kristen Graham

The Philadelphia School District should permanently prohibit out-of-school suspensions of children through fifth grade, a group of child advocates says, contending the district currently uses exclusion from school at “alarming rates” for its littlest learners.

A coalition of advocates wrote to Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. and the School Reform Commission this week asking for the policy change, saying excluding children from school is inappropriate punishment for misbehavior. The district last year halted most suspensions for kindergartners.

Citing the “continuous harm that suspensions cause our youngest learners — who are disproportionately students of color and students with disabilities — and their families,” the coalition, including the Education Law Center, Youth United for Change, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Councilwoman Helen Gym, and Parents United for Public Education, called on officials to act in a letter dated Monday.

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