Fewer student suspensions in Central Okanagan last year part of downward trend | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Fewer student suspensions in Central Okanagan last year part of downward trend

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
February 09, 2021 - 8:30 AM

For the first time on record, no Central Okanagan students were given indefinite suspensions in the 2019-20 school year.

That’s not just because school was suspended for much of last spring because of COVID-19. It’s part of a growing trend to issue fewer suspensions of any kind.

A report going to the School District 23 board of education on Wednesday, Feb. 10, says there were around 90 indefinite suspensions 15 to 20 years ago and 139 in the 1995-96 school year. In more recent years indefinite suspensions ranged from one to 11 per year. There were three in the 2018-19 school year.

“In a number of situations, students who may have potentially faced indefinite suspension receive a definite suspension and a required counselling intervention program (such as drug and alcohol, anger management or mental health support), as well as the possibility of community service arranged through Central or their home school instead,” states the report.

An indefinite suspension is issued to repeat offenders or those who commit very serious offences.

The number of students hit with definite suspensions has also decreased dramatically over the years.

There were 945 such suspensions in the 2019-20 school year, down from 1,161 the year before, which may be attributable to COVID-19.

That is a dramatic drop from the past. In the 2006-07 school year there were 1,663 definite suspensions, the report reads.

The biggest decreases in suspensions in the past school year were for smoking, fighting and behaviour with the only increases seen in bullying and language.

Despite that, the report pointed to a worrying increase in vaping suspensions for females. That’s included under smoking, which dropped to 41 females suspended in 2019-20 versus 88 the year before.

“The increase in vaping amongst school-aged students is a concern for school districts in many areas across the country and is being monitored and addressed both provincially and federally through health authorities,” the report states.

Males were suspended far more than females (702 to 243).

Grade 9 students were most likely to be suspended.

KLO Middle School, at 106, and Kelowna Secondary School, at 103, were the only schools to record more than 100 suspensions, although Mount Boucherie Secondary School had 99.

Of the 945 suspensions, 881 were in middle and secondary schools with only 64 in elementary school, but 20 of those were in Quigley Elementary School.

Despite the positive trend, staff cannot get complacent, the report states.

“While a decrease in the number of definite suspensions is laudable, the number and trends of types of suspensions issued still require monitoring and review,” the report reads. “The positive indicators (i.e. reduction in a number of suspension categories) this last year should not deter staff from continuing with the proactive and positive efforts they are making in support of students while maintaining codes of conduct and enhancing school cultures.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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