Durham, NC: 'Mental health is a huge issue' driving student suspensions

Jan 4, 2018, Durham (NC) Herald-Sun: Assaults on teachers up in Durham schools. See what else is driving suspensions Assaults on teachers and other school workers jumped 56 percent in Durham Public Schools last school year, according to the district. The preliminary data shows there were 61 assaults on school personnel last school year, 22 more than the 39 reported during the 2015-16 school year. … Overall, DPS saw a 17 percent increase of reportable offenses during the 2016-17 school year. … But Proffitt said more children are coming to DPS from unstable home environments and require extra support from the district. “As students come to our classrooms holding more and more trauma from poverty, deportations and violence in their own lives, they need more support than they ever have just to navigate their own emotions and mental and physical health,” Proffitt said. … While the data for reportable offenses does not explain the thousands of suspensions that DPS principals handed out last year, it does put numbers behind some of the more serious offenses. … The top five reasons listed for short-term suspensions were fighting/physical aggression, non-compliance with directives (middle schools and high schools), serious disruptive behavior (elementary schools), serious disruptive behavior (middle schools and high schools) and non-compliance with directives (elementary schools). … Shearer told The Herald-Sun last month that behavior issues are often related to mental health and trauma students have experienced away from school. “Mental health is a huge issue,” Shearer said. “To bring that with them, they exhibit behaviors that are inappropriate, unacceptable, not safe, but they are the results of some very significant events and experiences in their lives. The mental health is huge.” School board member Xavier Cason, a retired teacher, called the increase in assaults on teachers and others“significant” and said such incidents cannot be tolerated by principals.