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Anchorage School Board considers revising expulsion, suspension policies

  • Author: Tegan Hanlon
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published May 31, 2015

The Anchorage School Board will consider revisions to the School District's suspension and expulsion notification policies Monday, roughly two weeks after parents sued the district over its disciplinary process.

The revisions call for school administrators to provide a student's parent or guardian with written notice of a suspension or expulsion that includes a brief statement about the time, place and nature of what their child did that led to the discipline.

Currently, when a student is suspended or expelled, the administration must contact the parent or guardian for an in-person meeting. The administration gives them a letter that states the charge against their child, which could include only a short description like "disruptive conduct" or "willful disobedience."

Ed Graff, School District superintendent, said public comment about faults with the notification process prompted the proposed revisions. However, he said he could not comment on any ties between the revisions and the lawsuit.

James Davis, the plaintiffs' attorney in the lawsuit against the School District, said it appeared the proposed revisions met his clients' demands. In the complaint, his clients requested that when the School District suspends a student, it provide the student's family with the factual reasons for its action.

Davis, with the Northern Justice Project, said Friday that the School District's attorney had not contacted him with the proposed revisions, so he did not yet know how it would affect the lawsuit.

"I think this is a positive development for sure," he said. "We don't want to drag the ASD into court if we don't have to."

Davis is representing Kiana Putnam and BreeAnn Davis, two mothers of students enrolled in the Anchorage School District. Davis is not related to James Davis.

The women's children have been repeatedly suspended by the district. The mothers labeled the suspension notices as "unintelligible," according to the complaint.

"ASD's suspension notices fail to explain to the affected family any of the relevant facts, e.g., What exactly happened? Where? When? And who was involved in the alleged misconduct?" the complaint says.

The proposed revisions will be introduced during the School Board's 6:30 p.m. meeting Monday. The School Board will vote on the revisions at a later meeting.

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