Expulsions down in Waukesha County!

Expulsions down in Waukesha County!
Posted by FoM on February 22, 1999 at 05:56:35 PT

"We still have too many expulsions for drugs. . . . If it wasn't for marijuana, our expulsions would be down to near nothing." 
 The number of expulsions and suspensions in Waukesha County public schools declined significantly last school year at a time when they rose across the state, figures from the state Department of Public Instruction show. In the 1997-'98 school year, 39 students from the county were expelled, down from 65 the previous year, a 40% drop. Meanwhile, 2,575 students were suspended from county schools, down 4.5% from the 2,697 suspended during the 1996-'97 school year. The number of students expelled and suspended represents a small portion of the county's 59,438 public school students. Across the state, a total of 1,299 students in kindergarten through 12th grade were expelled last school year, up 20% from 1,082 the previous year. And 59,696 students statewide were suspended, up 2% from 58,476 the previous year. State officials recently compiled the expulsion and suspension data and have not yet determined why the number of expulsions and suspensions rose last school year after dropping the previous year, said James Leaver, the DPI's coordinator of the school performance report. In Waukesha County, the decrease in expulsions was attributable to declines in two districts: Waukesha and Elmbrook. In Waukesha, the largest district in the county, expulsions fell to 17, down 51% from 35 the previous year. The district typically accounts for about half of the students expelled from county schools. Suspensions declined 17.4%, to 638 from 772, in the Waukesha district. Gilbert Wilkins, the Waukesha district's executive director of administrative services, said the reason for the decreases was simple: Students were better behaved. "We are not doing anything different than we've done as far as dealing with improper behavior," Wilkins said. "It's just an indication that students are behaving better." He said he would like to attribute the decline to the district's zero tolerance on drugs and weapons, but that policy has been in place for years. Still, even though expulsions were down, district officials remain concerned about the number of students who have been caught with small amounts of marijuana. The majority of expulsions involved possession of marijuana, Wilkins said. "We're really tough on behavior," Wilkins said. "If you bring drugs, there is no second chance. You're gone. "We still have too many expulsions for drugs. . . . If it wasn't for marijuana, our expulsions would be down to near nothing." In Elmbrook, the second largest district in the county, expulsions were down 89%, to one from nine. Suspensions were down 10.7%, to 201 from 225. Elmbrook Superintendent Matthew Gibson also attributed both declines to improved student behavior. "Last year was a better year for us discipline-wise," Gibson said. "I wish I could attribute cause and effect. . . . But we didn't set any different standards than we've had in the past." Gibson said, "Both high school principals commented to me on last year being a peaceful year within their schools. The student leadership in the classes was of a positive nature, which tends to set a very positive tone." Another factor that may have helped reduce discipline problems was adding a second middle school last year, Gibson said. "One of the things that changed from years previous was moving from one very large middle school to two smaller middle schools, and I think that would have a positive effect" on discipline, Gibson said. In the 1996-'97 school year, Elmbrook Middle School, which served seventh- and eighth-graders, had an enrollment of 1,112. Last year, Elmbrook Middle School became Pilgrim Park Middle School, and it had an enrollment of 850 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. The second middle school, Wisconsin Hills, had an enrollment of 904. 
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