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Funding an Issue for State's School Discipline Law

A law that requires schools to continue learning for suspended or expelled students comes with a cost—but no certainty it will be funded by the state.

A new Massachusetts law that requires schools to ensure students can still learn when they're suspended or expelled has raised questions about the cost it'll take to do so. 

According to Chapter 222, "Any school district that suspends or expels a student under this section shall continue to provide educational services to the student during the period of suspension or expulsion." 

The Lowell Sun noted that the law followed a state report looking into connections between suspensions and dropout rates, and it also had the support of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents. 

But, according to Education Week , "many districts are citing the law as an unfunded mandate." That's because the state hasn't indicated whether funds will be allocated to cover the costs associated with the law. 

"Superintendents are very supportive of the intent of the law, they believe that youngsters should not be excluded from a continuation of education," said Tom Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, in an interview with Education Week. "The obvious concern is what is going to be the ultimate cost and who bears that cost?"

TELL US: What do you think about the new law, and should the state allocate funding for it? 
Missyleigh82 February 26, 2014 at 06:38 AM
Phoebe - That's a great idea. My school used to do that, but when the budget cuts came, the person who ran the in-school suspension was cut. We wish so much for that position to be reinstated!
Anna Bucciarelli February 26, 2014 at 06:48 AM
Phoebe's idea makes good sense to me.
Andrea February 26, 2014 at 07:58 AM
Unfortunately, at the level some of these kids gets expelled (high school) there is no single person who can teach college prep courses to a single student all day. I agree that it should be up to the parents to pay the expense of the child's education, particularly if it is a drug/alcohol related expulsion. We all know what zero tolerance means and we should not take away the school's ability to be punitive under these circumstances.
Steven Sadowski February 26, 2014 at 08:09 AM
I'd hate to bring up the "p" word at this point, but a Dutch model of education might be a solution for this problem? Imagine if you will, that the same choice you have in restaurants, you had in schools? So like a restaurant, if you are barred from a restaurant, you can go to another. If your behavior doesn't modify, eventually you will run out of restaurants and have to eat at home, but at least you would have had more options. Sometimes, and mostly a minority I'll admit, these suspensions go both ways: they are just as much the school's fault as it is the child's. There was a story just the other day about a kid whose father forgot to take a fishing knife out of his car and the kid got suspended under the zero tolerance policy. A rare example I know. Anyway, choice is always good. We expect no less from our cell phone plans, why we accept less from our childrens' education always bogles me.
Anna Bucciarelli February 26, 2014 at 08:13 AM
Well said Steven. Am in agreement. You're right ... it is not always the fault of the child, is sometimes a mis-judgement or misunderstanding of a situation.
Steven February 26, 2014 at 08:15 AM
"...unless an R gets on here, and after leaving us with the fiscal mess of 2007-8 starts trying to act holier-than-thou regarding fiscal restraint." Democrats controlled both houses of Congress -- including the Constitution's "Power of the Purse" -- from January 2007 to January 2009. Go back and look at what happened to spending once the Democrats took control of Congress after the 2006 elections. But, yeah, it's all the Rs' fault.
Anna Bucciarelli February 26, 2014 at 08:28 AM
Not all R's are bad guys, much the same as not all suspended kids are bad either. Not really sure about politics entering into this discussion but I don't pretend to be super smart.
Andrea February 26, 2014 at 08:28 AM
The type of expulsions I am talking about, drug or alcohol related, that are not a mistake, unless Dad leaves a roach in the kid's car, are the ones I was mentioning. If we cannot do something about these incidents because of money, we take away the school's ability to have a policy with teeth. Our kids cannot be scofflaws who think they can get away with anything. We have to have a preventive process in place. This process should include a review that prevents punishment of the innocent. No system is perfect but we cannot let money get in the way of doing what is right. Also, this sort of wake up call can really help a kid turn things around...
Anna Bucciarelli February 26, 2014 at 08:35 AM
Don't disagree Andrea, just saying that sometimes extreme action is taken for a minor incident. Happens often enough to at least question the procedures that are currently in place and how decisions are made.
Prometheus February 26, 2014 at 08:39 AM
Anna...that is true....and I think it again relates to government size. Logical, thinking people are no longer able to use sound judgement in situations like those...people's hands are tied....and a simple choice to use logic and reasonableness is not allowed under the law.
Prometheus February 26, 2014 at 08:39 AM
An example is the knife article SS references.
Steven Sadowski February 26, 2014 at 09:08 AM
Steven: Nice name BTW....George Bush will go down in history as probably one of the worst presidents in history right behind Woodrow Wilson. There was a reason the republicans were tossed out of Congress in 06 and it wasn't because they were fulfilling their campaign pledges of limiting govt. and fiscal restraint. But that's what the republicans have become: Democrat-lite. Keep in mind who gave us No Child Left Behind, TARP, the Iraq war and did not know the toxic bubble of the housing market.
Alison M February 26, 2014 at 09:45 AM
We should do all we can to educate young people. In addition, I support expanding educational opportunities such as making the last two years of high school the first two years of college and making it mandatory that all graduate from high school.
Steven Sadowski February 26, 2014 at 09:54 AM
"making it mandatory that all graduate from high school." Really? And how do you enforce this? Keep in mind that we already have a law---a very poorly written, adjudicated and implemented law---that makes it mandatory that we all have health insurance.
Prometheus February 26, 2014 at 09:58 AM
I disagree. The last thing we need is more government involvement and more regulation.
Sunsetover02048 February 26, 2014 at 10:57 AM
Good grief. I don't want my kids in school with the kids that are doing the things to get expelled, and I certainly don't want to pick up the tab for their education. Kids start getting expelled in 7th grade - that seems to be the magic age these days. Lawmakers better get a grip-you can't save them all, Deval..disgusting.
Prometheus February 26, 2014 at 11:04 AM
One issue is the "social justice" mentality in our society today. People seem willing to trade freedom for what they view as protection and safety....when in fact they are simply enslaving themselves.
Alison M February 26, 2014 at 01:25 PM
Regarding poster's comment when I suggested making it mandatory that all graduate from high school, among other ideas. Yes. Really. I believe that it could only benefit the individual and society to produce the most highly educated people possible. The benefits: a highly skilled workforce; great thinkers and innovators who can solve the problems we face - including improving our economy. Also, I have noted individuals for whom education might be their last and only chance for achievement and/or escape from a bad environment; these individuals may not have all the benefits of a good, solid family life and financial resources. Some people can overcome all this no matter what; but what's wrong with giving people a leg up - especially when it counts, when they are very young, dependent and vulnerable. Give them the very best education possible.
Prometheus February 26, 2014 at 01:27 PM
The problem is that to give to "them" you must first take from "me"....and their actions already say "I don't want it".
Steven Sadowski February 26, 2014 at 01:53 PM
Alison: I would--or more aptly "could"---be able to judge your proposal, if you could show me a place on earth where graduation is mandatory. The last vestiges of such a paradigm were in the old USSR where the govt. assessed you on your aptitude in certain subjects and then made you become that thing. But not even there did they make EVERYONE graduate as some had to work the factories and fields. A govt. so powerful that it could mandate such a thing...my god, is this the kind of place you'd like to raise your children?
Bob February 26, 2014 at 02:24 PM
SS - I am not a fan of Bush as President but you are not correct on the financial crisis. It was Bush in 2003 that told Congress it was coming. Barney Frank and Chris Dodd moved to protect their friends at Freddie and Fannie and blocked his threat of action. He saw it coming and tried to stop it.
Sunny February 26, 2014 at 02:33 PM
Did anyone watch Chronicle last night? One all- boys school claimed that boys need to go "wild" for at least an hour during school day The students can run down the hallways as long as they don't hurt anybody. An hour of gym appeared to be like wrestling. The administrator states that boys has tendency to be ADHD and autism; that way the students get in trouble. They need to work with hands in creating crafts (may be clay but not saw or hammer). I believe that in-house suspension away from student population. The child get evaluate why he/she acted up. Private study room with other suspended students.
Anna Bucciarelli February 26, 2014 at 03:14 PM
I watched Chronicle and what I came away with is that young boys are very different from girls in that they have a harder time getting down to the business of schooling, are not fully able to control their energy in a classroom, need to have a more active curriculum. There was mention about some of them being ADHD and some possibly manifesting autistic behavior, but I don't think that was the emphasis of the piece. As far back as I can remember there has been the speculation that boys are a step behind girls up to a certain point then they excel and their achievements begin to surpass the girls. The Chronicle piece showed a particular school where boys were offered more frequent physical-type recesses so they could work off some of their energy, were offered opportunities to work with their hands to learn skills not usually taught these days except in voc schools thereby relieving them of the need to sit in a classroom setting all day which is very hard for some. There was also mention about medication and how it does help but can become a problem since dependency occurs and they really need to learn to adapt to life without that crutch. It was a good and informative Chronicle. As for in-house suspension, it sounds like a good idea but it can also be interpreted simply as detention, don't know if that's good or bad. My thought re: mandating that every child must graduate HS is simply that not all people are geared toward education. Let's say we insist a kid has to stay in school to graduate ... what if he can't make the grade? Do we keep them in school ad infinitum? It's a preposterous idea for that alone, not to mention that one more gov't. mandate is one more too much.
Prometheus February 26, 2014 at 03:16 PM
Agreed!
Sunny February 26, 2014 at 04:06 PM
Minuteman Voc in Lexington enrollment is so low that school board is thinking of closing the school. My two brothers went there. One studied Culinary Arts and went to a couple colleges. My other brother actually went back to learn AutoCAD to update his resume. I think that boys want more attention is it because of single parent I do not know. When my siblings were growing up, there was a teacher disliked boys. My parents made sure that all three of brothers did have her. I do believe that teachers can be at fault, too. Kids get marked as bad. I coach a team of 9 - 13 yr. old boys with my husband. The 13 yr. old missed try-outs so he couldn't go to higher-level team. He was acting up with his teammates so I took aside and asked him what's the problem. Upset being in Minors, Mom died and Dad's gone on business trips, I told him that I want him to be my team captain. He reports to me and he helps and give confidence to other players. Great Kid!
Steven Sadowski February 26, 2014 at 04:38 PM
Bob: You are wrong in this regard with Bush, while he, and many others tried to warn about the toxic debts, it was done while at the same time, contributing to the crisis/problem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNqQx7sjoS8
Bob February 26, 2014 at 05:18 PM
SS - He made a speech about home ownership and building affordable housing. He was right on that. He asked for investment to QUALIFIED buyers. That You tube video is in 2002. He warned about F and F in 2003. Again not a big fan as POTUS (I believe he is a good man) but he saw the problem and raised the alert.
Sunny February 26, 2014 at 05:43 PM
I don't want anymore 40B housing in Chelmsford on Littleton Rd. There are too apartment dwellings (one burnt down to ground even though the fire station was less than a mile away), condos, and trailer park (sorry that taxes as permanent housing). Now, Chelmsford Crossing (40B) is in the future. Who's going to live there? Not Chelmsford senior citizens on the waiting list or layoff Chelmsford citizens but outsiders? Problem families with troubled kids. Chelmsford should get assigned social worker. Note: Westford / Chelmsford town line is another 40B, Princeton Apartments.
Steven Sadowski February 27, 2014 at 08:09 AM
Bob: I think this is a fair article that takes in both of our POV's: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/21/business/21admin.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
John f caruso February 27, 2014 at 11:33 AM
Does this mean that if any kid feels like he is bullied he can get suspended and we pay them to go to school even at home. Does this that the total of kids say 100 in a district the school get the monies for their education but if the kids drop out of this also who gets the monies. Sounds like unfounded and back door tax payers tax on the monies. Sounds like say a school in boston that is mismanaged by management could reap profits when and if the students rebel and don't go to school. This sounds great but seems just another way to tax the taxpayer after all the poor people do not have the monies to tax so it is another middle class sham.

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