Jump in suspensions at Lincoln Public Schools blamed on COVID-19 in new review

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — Lincoln Public Schools’ newly released School Resource Officer Program Review reveals a rise in suspensions that’s believed to be linked to COVID-19.

There were about 5,500 suspensions last year, compared to around 4,400 the year before the pandemic.

Data also show that students of color and those participating in special programs, like free and reduced lunch and English language learners, are being suspended at a higher rate than their classmates.

The review says the overall increase in suspensions is likely due to students being removed from their normal routines for an extended stretch, creating behavioral problems.

So students come in without the socialization, without the chance to grow, without the chance to grow with their peers around them, I think has led to many of the discipline problems that we’ve seen,” said John Neal, LPS assistant superintendent. 

But the study also found a significant drop in citations.  They were way down last year, with officials reporting just over 200 referrals at middle and high schools.

That’s about half of the average before COVID-19 began closing campuses nationwide.

Calls to law enforcement for possible criminal acts at middle and high schools were also down.

There were almost 1,300 last year, compared to more than 1,400 the year before the pandemic.

Concerns were previously raised that adding officers to more campuses would create a school-to-prison pipeline, but these latest findings suggest that may not the case.

Officials admit more work needs to be done to decrease disparities.  One goal is to reduce suspensions for all students by 20%.

Categories: Coronavirus, Education News, Lancaster, News, Top Stories