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LA Unified suspensions for 'defiance' are down


L.A. Unified has had roughly 1,400 fewer suspensions for defiance through February of this year compared to last year, said Superintendent John Deasy today.

The district has worked to decrease its suspension rate, especially for defiance (a category that can include talking back or not following a teacher's directions), by encouraging school officials to deal with students on campus rather than sending them home.

Since last year the district has tracked suspension rates on a monthly basis at the school level and officials plan to start doing so at the classroom and teacher level in July.

"It's important to track and have an understanding of the patterns taking place," Deasy said.

Some teachers expressed concern about the data and whether it would be used to rate them. Others felt they were being blamed for students who were verbally abusive or out of control.

Deasy said the district is merely collecting information. Isabel Villalobos, the coordinator of student discipline and expulsion support for L.A. Unified, said the district will use the data to determine whether a particular classroom is having more trouble than others and whether the teacher or a specific student needs more support. 

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@latams).