Overall suspensions are down in Jefferson County Public Schools this academic year, but the district is still struggling with one major at-risk student group.
There have been around 1,300 fewer suspensions this year so far than the previous year, which is an 11 percent improvement, according to JCPS data. Chief Academic Officer Dewey Hensley says new programs are better addressing at-risk students.
But while suspension numbers have also dropped for African-American students, 5.9 percent or 460 suspensions going into the last few weeks of school, their percentage of the total suspension population has slightly increased from 63 to 66 percent of the total number of suspensions.
Hensley says this needs to change.
“We are extremely concerned about that. We’ve put in place a corrective action plan where we’re attempting to address that issue, to put in better interventions for students,” he says.
The largest drop came at the high school level, but elementary school suspensions stayed about the same. Hensley says this may be due to new assistant principals put in place at most elementary schools this year. He says some of them may have been over-aggressive in handing out suspensions.
“That’s a training issue and we have scheduled that as part of our assistant principal training this upcoming summer,” he says.
Part of the district’s initiatives includes training staff and teachers in cultural competency, but some have argued JCPS needs to do a better job of addressing the culture inside schools. The group Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together, or CLOUT, has pushed for more positive or in-school corrective actions when students misbehave. That group also plans to address the JCPS school board at Monday night’s meeting.