UPDATE: NAACP criticizes 750 suspensions at Brainerd for 2013-14 - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: NAACP criticizes 750 suspensions at Brainerd for 2013-14 school year

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UPDATE: Brainerd High School issued more than 750 suspensions during 2013-14 school year and now the school leadership is catching criticism from the local NAACP chapter.

Brainerd High had 592 students at the school during the 2013-14 school year.

The local NAACP president said "restorative justice" is absent in local schools and suggests schools focus less on establishing blame or guilt and more on discipline through problem solving.

Principal Uras Agee said discipline is on the decline under his watch and that the school is making great strides. He said he doesn't understand why Brainerd is getting singled out.

"You name me a school where there's no discipline," Agee said. "You telling me that other Hamilton County schools don't have a fight? Other schools across the country don't have an incident? Or kids get in trouble and make poor decisions? How come when Brainerd High School has something going on, it's always highlighted?"

Just this week, Agee suspended eight girls after a fight at the school. Police responded and all eight were charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct. That prompted the letter from the NAACP saying discipline like suspensions "are funneling our students out of the schoolhouse and into the jailhouse."

"Suspensions aren't the only thing we do," Agee said. "There are other things but then there are necessary times where you have to discipline kids. And every school does that, it's not just Brainerd."

According to the Hamilton County Board of Education, there were 755 suspensions in 2013-14; 271 suspensions in 2012-13; and 291 suspensions so far for the year 2014-15.

The NAACP cited numbers from the Tennessee Dept. of Education's website which says there were 325 suspensions in 2013-14 and 175 in 2012-13.

PREVIOUS STORY: Here is a statement from the Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP, regarding the incident at Brainerd High on Tuesday, in which several students were suspended in the aftermath of a fight:

"The Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP shares in concerns currently being raised in the community over the recent incident which occurred at Brainerd High School on March 24th, 2015, and any such activities across the landscape of the county which may lead to a disruption of normal school activities and effect the learning outcome and achievement of any student. As the stewards of our communities, it is our hope that our students, parents, schools and the community at-large do all that we can to foster the best learning environments possible. Nevertheless, there were many startling revelations that were conveyed to the public in regards to this incident. First, as the suspensions in County Schools decreased from roughly 3,900 to 3,700 in the 2013-14 calendar, the rate at Brainerd High School more than doubled from 175 to 325. Secondly, according to the information last received by our Branch, the students involved in this incident “have been” charged with criminal disorderly conduct, which may result in this event becoming permanently affixed on their criminal history records and as a result may permanently endanger their future upward mobility, educational attainment and employment prospects for the unforeseeable future. This incident highlights one overwhelming fact,  “restorative justice” is absent in our schools.

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP calls for programs  in our schools that adhere to the “Balanced and Restorative” (BAJR)  model as devised by the Department of Justice  that not only helps students to atone, places an emphasis on accountability, and increases interpersonal skills and social efficacy through enhanced competency development, but provides alternatives to punitive penalties such as conflict resolution and critical thinking development while also making the community as a whole active-stakeholders in increasing school safety and healthier learning environments. The State of Illinois, in conjunction with the Department of Justice, has developed an approach for implementing restorative justice in our schools that will be equally beneficial to our students and the community to adopt.

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP likewise calls for  a complete dismantling of the school to prison pipeline in Hamilton County Schools because of the disparity levels and disproportionate rates  experienced by African American and minority students in terms of suspensions, expulsions, reassignment to alternative schools, and  other disciplinary infractions which are funneling our students out of the schoolhouse and into the jailhouse, and is likewise condemning them to lifetimes of mediocrity. In the final estimation, our students and community will have no justice until our policies cease being ambivalent to the Restorative Justice that we need now."

Respectfully, Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP

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