Harford student suspensions keep climbing 149 cases this year already

November 27, 1994|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,Sun Staff Writer

The suspension rate for Harford students is continuing its upward spiral, with 149 cases as of Nov. 18, a school supervisor said last week.

There were 630 suspension cases last school year.

"We are well on the way to matching the rate of suspensions" last year, Stephen C. Lentowski, supervisor of psychological and pupil personnel services, told school board members Monday.

Last year's suspensions more than tripled the number five years ago. Since then, the number has grown steadily, from 206 in 1989-1990 to 315 in 1990-1991, 413 in 1991-1992 and 440 in 1992-1993.

The most recent breakdown of causes for suspensions was available only through September, said John M. Mead, the school system's executive director of pupil services.

There were 42 cases that month, with eight thefts in the largest category. The high number of thefts could pertain to a particular incident in a particular school, Mr. Mead said, comparing it with 22 total theft cases last year.

The number of suspensions for drug-related offenses in September was six. Possession of explosive weapons and dangerous weapons was the third leading cause for suspensions, with five cases.

Last year, there were 76 drug-related cases and 70 cases involving explosive weapons and dangerous weapons. Nine of the latter cases involved guns, Mr. Mead said.

Of the nine, one was a look-alike gun. "By virtue of our policy, if it looks like a gun, it is a gun," Mr. Mead explained. This year, gun infractions have included two toy handguns, he said.

Mr. Mead pointed out that except in one instance, the confiscated guns did not contain ammunition. "No student has ever been shot in school, or anyone shot in school, or stabbed. It's simple possession," he said.

Other reasons for student suspensions last year included smoking, 30 cases; classroom disruption, 54; physical attacks on students, 52; attacks on staff members, 12; and vandalism, 19. The largest number of cases, 178, fell into the category of refusal to cooperate with school policies.

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