The number of three- and four-year-olds hit with out-of-school suspensions in Maryland every year is crazy: 75 in 2009-2010, 105 the following year, and 91 the year after that. And Baltimore City is responsible for more pre-K suspensions than any other district in the state
The numbers themselves are rather shocking — these are basically toddlers we’re talking about — but the transgressions they are being punished for are even harder to swallow. In a paragraph that I had to read four times over to make sure I wasn’t mistaken, the Baltimore Sun reported that most “were suspended for physical attacks on teachers or students, though a handful were suspended for offenses such as sexual activity, possession of a firearm or other guns, inciting a public disturbance, and vandalism.”
But David Beard, of Advocates for Children and Youth, argues that no matter the seriousness of the children’s behavior, suspension is inappropriate for that age group. “Just in terms of their brain development … they don’t know the difference from a vacation,” he said.
The school system has been revising its zero-tolerance policies to give principals more latitude in determining punishments and to turn suspension into a last resort, so these numbers may very well drop — even precipitously.
But any number of pre-K suspensions per year — other than zero — seems out of whack.
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