Santee High Schools Among Best Behaved in District, Reports Show - Brian W. Jones

Santee High Schools Among Best Behaved in District, Reports Show

May 2, 2013

Santana and West Hills high schools expelled a combined 12 students and suspended 242 in 2011-2012, say new figures. But compared with other schools in the Grossmont Union High School District, Santee’s were angels.

Mt. Miguel High School expelled 29 students, suspended 181 and had the highest truancy rate in the district.

The Spring Valley school’s truancy rate of 37.2 percent was based on 691 students in the 1,859-student campus having unexcused absences.

By contrast, Santana and West Hills had truancy rates of 16.7 percent and 13.6 percent, respectively. Only Helix and Steele Canyon charter high schools had better rates—3.5 percent and 11.7 percent, respectively.

Santana and West Hills expelled seven and five students, respectively, and suspended 125 and 117.

The Grossmont district released data for suspensions, expulsions and truancies at Patch request after the state Department of Education listed GUHSD as one of more than 100 districts in the state that hadn’t completed and certified their figures.

The most expulsions by a Grossmont district school were the 51 by Chaparral Continuation High School in El Cajon. But for traditional high schools, Mt. Miguel had the highest number.

Spring Valley rival Monte Vista High School reported 15 expulsions, 214 suspensions and a 30.5 percent truancy rate—compared with a county average of 22.2 percent and state average of 28.5 percent.

La Mesa rivals Grossmont and Helix Charter high schools had 14 and 6 expulsions, respectively, and 190 and 109 suspensions.

Helix’s truancy rate of 3.5 percent was by far the lowest in the district, with Grossmont at 22.6 percent.

Districtwide, the Grossmont schools had 197 expulsions and 2,664 suspensions in 2011-12, according to data provided Tuesday. [See attached PDFs.]

About 30 categories were listed for expulsions and suspensions. The most expulsions (41) were for incidents of “disruption, defiance.”

On Thursday, Republican state Assemblyman Brian Jones of Santee responded to legislation denying school administrators from suspending students who “willfully” defy teachers. 

“If children continuously disrupt the classroom, there will be no repercussions,” Jones said in a statement. “School children need to obey the rules and respect their teachers—plain and simple. We shouldn’t be teaching kids that it’s OK to defy authority.

“How will kids ever grow up to obey the law if they aren’t taught to obey the simple rules at school?” 

Other major reasons for expulsions districtwide were:

  • Alcohol, Intoxicant (28)
  • Possession, Sale, Furnishing a Firearm or Knife (26)
  • Caused, Attempted, or Threatened Physical Injury (25)
  • Possession of a Knife or Dangerous Object (25)

Obscene acts, profanity and vulgarity led to nine expulsions and 176 suspensions, the district reported.

In the K-8 Santee School District, 425 suspensions were reported in 2012-2012, but no expulsions were handed out. Truancy rates ranged from a low of 5.2 percent at Sycamore Canyon Elementary to 24.2 percent at Pride Academy at Prospect Avenue, which includes seventh- and eighth-graders.

In San Diego County—with 592 expulsions not counting Grossmont, Coronado and several other districts—the largest number was in San Diego Unified, with 202, followed by Escondido Union High (93), Vista Unified (68), Oceanside Unified (55), Carlsbad Unified (36), San Marcos Unified (35) and Poway Unified (31).

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced the data release April 19.

The data show a total of 366,629 students suspended and 9,553 students expelled among the more than 6 million public school students in California, a suspension rate of 5.7 percent, and an expulsion rate of 0.1 percent.

“Common sense tells us that we cannot teach students who are not in school,” Torlakson said. “I hope that parents, teachers, administrators, and students see this information as the starting point for discussions about how to find alternatives to suspension that sustain healthy learning environments while keeping as many students as possible in class.”

A review of the data indicates there are some differences in the rates at which some student groups are suspended, the state said.

For example, the data show African-American students are 6.5 percent of total enrollment, but make up 19 percent of suspensions. White students are 26 percent of total enrollment, but represent 20 percent of suspensions. Hispanic students are 52 percent of total enrollment, and 54 percent of suspensions.  

The Department of Education says it is working on several initiatives to address differences in rates by identifying positive alternatives to suspension and expulsion, as well as developing effective strategies to improve attendance as part of an overarching initiative to keep students in school.

“The department has partnered with several organizations to work on these initiatives, including The California Endowment, the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care, the Region IX Equity Assistance Center at WestEd, and Attendance Works,” said a news release.

The 2011-12 suspension and expulsion, as well as truancy reports, are available on the Department of Education’s DataQuest site.

The reports may be viewed by the state, county, district, and school level. Reports on the most serious federal offense are available as part of the persistently dangerous school reporting requirement under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act.