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The One Percent: Ghetto Schools That Suspend

Tuesday 7 May 2002

One percent of secondary schools were responsible for nineteen percent of suspensions in 2001, ACT Education Spokesman MP Donna Awatere Huata revealed today.

"Twenty-seven schools account for 920 suspensions, or 34 each. That is almost forty classrooms of children.

"Zoning has created ghetto schools that are rampant with violence, drug offending, sexual harassment and intimidation. At these over-burdened schools, teachers are kicking children out because they don't have the resources or skills to cope.

"In comparison, fourteen percent of schools didn't suspend a single child, and a further twenty-two percent made fewer than five suspensions.

"There were 17,141 stand-downs and 4,802 suspensions last year - 113 stand-downs or suspensions every single school day.

"Drugs and substance abuse was the most frequent reason for suspension (1,555 cases representing 32 percent of suspensions) , followed by continual disobedience (1,126 representing 23 percent) and physical assault on other children (685, representing 14 percent). It is frightening that 358 of our most vulnerable children - from primary schools and special schools - got into strife for drugs offences. That's more than the number who faced disciplinary action for smoking cigarettes.

"Mr Mallard spent $1.05 million on a Suspension Reduction Initiative for Maori students in the past year - that would appear to have worked in the areas it was implemented, yet it doesn't address the real problem. Suspensions in decile one-to-three schools haven't dropped at all, and boys, Maori and Pacific Island children are still over-represented.

"Our most urgent concern must be identifying the 27 schools that each suspended a classroom full of children. Packages to reduce suspension rates for particular groups of New Zealanders are meaningless when a core group of schools is so under-resourced that they have no other option," Mrs Awatere Huata said.


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