Elementary School Personnel’s Perspectives on School Suspensions: A Basic Qualitative Study

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Suspensions from school were originally developed as an exclusionary form of discipline for severe infractions such as fighting and theft. In-school-suspension (ISS) involves students reporting to supervised designated areas or rooms on the school campus with assignments to complete. In an out-of-school suspension (OSS), a student is not allowed on the school campus for a period of time. The problem was elementary school students are disciplined using ISS or OSS; however, school personnel’s perceptions about the benefits and limitations of school suspensions were unknown. The purpose of the basic qualitative study was to explore the perceptions of elementary school teachers, administrators, ISS monitors, and school counselors regarding the benefits and limitations of elementary school suspensions. The theoretical framework of the study was Bandura’s social cognitive learning theory. Two research questions addressed the perceptions of elementary school teachers, school counselors, administrators, and ISS monitors about the (a) benefits and (b) limitations of ISS and OSS programs. For the basic qualitative study, four teachers, three administrators, one ISS monitor, and seven school counselors completed questionnaires, and a subsample of three were interviewed. Perceived benefits of suspension included removal of the disruptive student from the classroom; limitations included missed instruction and inadequate resources for properly supervised ISS. The overall consensus was suspensions have both benefits and limitations. The effectiveness or lack of effectiveness reported in the responses varied depending on individual students and their behaviors. Recommendations included positive preventive programs to reduce the use of suspensions.