Expulsions necessary, but put kids on the street

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 26, 2004

With the seventh expulsion of a Demopolis City School student this year, the question arises whether the school system should employ other methods in order to keep these children in the classroom instead of on the streets.

Demopolis City School System Superintendent Dr. Wesley Hill said that late in the school year is a busy time for students to get expelled from school. Students who have committed multiple offenses during the year are often looking for a way out. There have been a total of seven students expelled this year with two of those seven not appearing before the board of education.

“We have a lot of students that get expelled during this time of year,” Hill said.

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He said that the school system expels an average of five to 10 students a year. Among the most common reasons for expelling a student are drugs, striking a school employee and the possession of firearms of any kind.

A student with multiple suspensions is also a candidate for expulsion. “One act in itself can get a student expelled from the system,” Hill said.

Hill said the use of expulsion is always a last resort for the Board of Education and himself. He also said that the board is always looking for alternative punishments or some other way to deal with students besides expelling them.

“With due process in all the situations we face, we want to avoid the use of expulsion by every means necessary,” Hill said.

Hill said different circumstances are involved in the process of determining wither or not to expel a child. The board always allows for due process before the final judgment is made.

“It’s natural for people not wanting children on the streets instead of in the classroom,” Hill said.

Even after a child has been expelled, the expulsion can be appealed. Hill said there have been cases where a student is allowed to come back once the new school year has started, but ultimately that decision lies with the board.

At its Feb. 17 meeting the Demopolis Board of Education issued a statement noting that the system provides in-school suspension and alternative programs to try to prevent the need for expulsion of students.

“Nevertheless,” the statement read, “there is a very small percentage of students that fail to improve behavior after many disciplinary strategies have been applied. These students must be removed from the school setting in order to maintain a good educational system.”