WEST JEFFERSON-Ashe County High students are spending more time in the classroom and less time in the principal’s office.
According to a newly released report by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction on suspensions and expulsions, Ashe County was one of nine school systems reporting the lowest rates of short-term suspensions for grades 9-12 in 2014-15.
Ashe County Superintendent Todd Holden said the low number of suspensions speaks volumes about the community the school system serves, as well as the students who comprise it.
“We have really good kids and a great community that works together with our kids and help us get the things that we need,” said Holden.
The tireless efforts of teachers and administrators is also key to keeping students in class where they belong.
“No one wants to suspend a kid,” said Holden. “That’s a loss of instructional time and that also means those students will spend more time in the streets where they will get into even more trouble.”
A longstanding counseling partnership with Appalachian State University has also helped curb unruly behavior. Holden said this complements the oversight of existing counselors within the school system.
“They show kids through behavior modifications that there are other alternatives they can do other than things that would get them suspended,” he said.
Joining Ashe County with one the lower rate for suspensions statewide was neighboring Watauga County and Elkin City Schools. Lexington City Schools reported zero short-term suspensions.
Halifax, Anson and Anson counties led the state last year with the highest rates of short-term suspensions.
The annual report, which was prepared to be presented to the N.C. General Assembly, also provides statewide data on school violence, suspensions and drop-out rates.
One of nine North Carolina high school students received at least one out-of-school short-term suspensions last year. Many students received only one suspension each year, but a number of students received multiple short-term suspensions, according to the report.
Ninth grade students received the largest number of short-term suspensions on a statewide average. The rate of short-term suspensions for male students was 2.8 times higher than for females.
Black students received the highest rate of short-term suspensions followed by American Indians. Short-term suspension rates increased in 2014-15 for black, Hispanic, multiracial, and white students.
Rates decreased for American Indian, Asian, and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students, according to the report’s findings.
Reach Jesse Campbell at 336-846-7164.