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Information Services - Statistical Reports

Student Exclusions 1994 - 1995

Dear Friends,

The enclosed report, Student Exclusions in Massachusetts Public Schools: 1994-95, provides important information regarding student exclusions for the 1994-95 school year. (An exclusion is defined as the removal of a student from school for disciplinary purposes permanently, indefinitely or for more than ten consecutive days.)

The Education Reform Act of 1993, and subsequent amendments enacted over the past two years, authorize school principals, rather than school committees, to expel students who carry weapons or illegal drugs to school, assault school personnel or are convicted of a felony off school grounds. Currently, no law requires districts to provide expelled students with alternative education, unless they are students with special needs who under federal law are entitled to receive alternative education.

In September 1994, a Report on Alternative Education was issued jointly by the Commission on Alternative Education and the MassJobs Council, addressing the issue of alternative education for students who are excluded from school, as well as for those who drop out of school. The purpose of that report was to make recommendations which balanced the need to maintain safe and secure public schools conducive to teaching and learning while at the same time ensuring that the needs of all students are met. The report stated that, "Our schools cannot provide the high quality of education envisioned in the 1993 Education Reform Act unless they are safe and secure places in which all students can learn and teachers can teach. Some students, because of their aggressive and violent behavior, simply must be removed from the regular classroom setting."

The data presented here will be useful to school officials, agencies and others to assess the impact of the state laws affecting student discipline, and to determine the need for alternative education programs. This information will also be useful to the Commission on Alternative Education, the Board of Education, the Legislature and the Governor as they continue to address this issue.


Summary of Key Findings

In 1994-95, there were 1505 student exclusions in the full school year. Of these, 1410 students were excluded from school only once during the school year, and 85 students were excluded more than once. In 1993-94, there were 958 student exclusions, although the data were collected as of May 1, 1994, and do not represent the full school year.

Exclusion rates varied among school districts. In 1994-95, 47 percent of school districts reported no exclusions, compared to 54 percent the prior year. In 1994-95, 24 districts reported ten or more exclusions, compared to nine districts in 1993-94.

Of all student exclusions in 1994-95, 26 percent were removed from school for possession of a weapon, and another four percent were excluded for possession of a weapon in combination with some other offense. This is down substantially from the previous year, when 42 percent of exclusions resulted from possession of a weapon and another two percent resulted from possession of a weapon in combination with some other offense.

In 1994-95, 72 percent of exclusions were between 14 and 21 years old, 24 percent were between 11 and 13 years old, and three percent were 10 years old and under.

The data on alternative education for students excluded from school must be analyzed with two factors in mind. First, federal law requires that special needs students excluded from school for ten or more days be provided with alternative education. Second, over one-quarter of exclusions occurred in Springfield, and of those, 88 percent were provided with alternative education. Not counting special needs students or Springfield students (as most of these students were provided with alternative education), 45 percent of students excluded from school were provided with alternative education. This compares to 35 percent in 1993-94. While there has been improvement, there is a long way to go toward reaching the goal of 100 percent of students receiving educational services in classrooms or in alternate settings.

As the 1994 Report on Alternative Education stated, &q#34Violent, dangerous or seriously disruptive behavior which compromises school safety and security cannot and will not be tolerated. The way we address such behavior, however, has ramifications that extend well beyond the walls of the school building." In various parts of the Commonwealth, school districts have developed alternatives to exclusion as a means of maintaining order and discipline in their schools. An increasing number of districts do a commendable job in providing students they exclude with alternative education. Programs in these districts serve as models from which others can learn. The Commission on Alternative Education, the Board of Education and I will continue working with school officials in the effort to provide safe schools and meaningful learning opportunities for all students.

Sincerely,

Robert V. Antonucci
Commissioner of Education



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Last Updated: January 1, 1995
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