By Jenn Watt
Despite the 2019-2020 school year being cut short, with COVID-19 precautionary closures beginning March 13, 2020, more than 1,100 suspensions were issued across the Trillium Lakelands District School Board.
Numbers were presented to school board trustees at their committee of the whole meeting on Sept. 8.
The top three reasons for suspensions were conduct injurious to well being, conduct injurious to moral tone and code of conduct violations.
“There are a total of 1,149 suspensions occurred and that’s represented by 1,064 students, so that we’re only counting students’ names once with a total number of days being 3,397,” said Dave Golden, superintendent of learning. Twelve students were expelled during the school year.
The previous school year, 2018-2019, 1,724 suspensions were issued, which was the highest number in a seven-year period. However, Golden reminded the board that three months of school were missed due to COVID-19 closures. Eight of the suspensions in 2019-2020 were issued while school buildings were closed.
The number of male elementary students who received suspensions was highlighted by Golden as an area of specific concern. Even with the shorter in-school year, more than 500 suspensions were handed out to male elementary school students in 2019-2020. A chart presented at the meeting shows that number just above 400 in 2018-2019 and below 200 in the 2016-2017 school year, which was the lowest in the seven-year comparison. Male students far more commonly received suspensions than did female students.
“There is quite a large rise in the number of male elementary students as you can see in the 19-20 [bar graph] even taking off the number of months that we are [removing], it’s still very high, the highest we’ve had in several years, so certainly a piece that we’re going to be investigating further as to what we can do to make a difference in that area,” Golden said.
Starting this year, there will be no more suspensions for students in junior kindergarten to Grade 3. Last year, 145 suspensions were issued to students in those grades.
By Jenn Watt