At-home suspensions for worst offenders

State Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, has introduced a bill that should receive serious consideration from her colleagues in Columbus. The idea is that public schools would resort to home suspensions only for the worst offenses — bringing a gun to school, for example — rather than simple bad behavior.

Last year, Ohio schools doled out 34,000 suspensions just to children in third grade and lower. The problem, of course, is that those students are often the ones who can least afford to miss out on classroom time. And, though some may be hesitant to admit it, they are much better off at school than back at home.

“When you send them home, you don’t know what you’re sending them home to that day,” Ironton Elementary School Principal John Maynard told a reporter. “We want learning to happen and part of learning is behavior.”

Lehner points out many of these students who already are academically and socially “behind” are placed at an even greater disadvantage when they are removed from the classroom and sent back to circumstances that may well be the reasons for their misbehavior to begin with.

Certainly students who are a true danger to other students, teachers or staff must be removed from the building; and many schools find themselves stretched for the resources needed to best serve students with behavioral difficulties.

But Lehner’s proposal, perhaps with a few tweaks that allow for more decision-making at the local level, is a good one. Keeping more kids in the classroom should be everyone’s goal.