Parenthood
Parents get major wake up call when principal suspends over 500 students
They might have been drastic measures – but they certainly caught the parents' attention.
Ashley Brewer
10.01.21

Being in school isn’t exactly the easiest time in a person’s life. Things are changing quickly, life is coming at you fast, and things can be all-around awkward. And although schools have really had to adapt to changes, one school back in 2017 was also dealing with some tough times.

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This school decided to take drastic measures.

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With most things going remote, it’s safe to say things have NOT been easy. Lack of access to reliable wifi and computers, kids with learning issues, and parents with jobs are just a few of the many problems that kids faced “learning during COVID”. What’s more, the whole dynamic of school has changed dramatically during the past year in the same way adult’s perceptions of work has.

In Harrisburg Highschool in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a school decided it was done with students not being in class.

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Lisa Love was a new principal at the high school back in 2017 when she saw the data for the number of kids cutting class at her school. It had gotten totally out of hand and as the new leader, she wanted to fix it.

“If you’re not in class, all you’re here to do then is to wreak havoc upon the school,” said principal Lisa Love

Students were going to school but were not attending classes while they were there.

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There were security and education issues happening as a result of kids simply being on campus and not being where they were supposed to be. Principal Love’s plan? To start mass suspensions with phone calls to parents.

With a few (hundred) phone calls, Principal Love put her foot down!

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Soon, over 500 students were placed on suspension notice and had a call home from a staff member. The resulting chaos was enough to warrant ABC27, a news outlet, to take notice!

“And a lot of times doing transformational work means that you have to do some radical things to get the attention of parents and the community and students,” she said.

Principal Love wanted to restore order to her school and thought this was the only effective way to do so.

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Sometimes, it takes radical action to make something happen! The biggest issue was that parents didn’t even know that it was happening because the students were literally at the school but not showing up for classes most of the time. When they started taking attendance differently, 540 students were on the list of anyone missing 35+ classes in a matter of weeks – it was about half of the entire school.

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During a later open-forum meeting with parents and faculty, they were able to talk about solutions.

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Parents weren’t happy about the suspensions but Love thought it was the best way to kickstart things and get the ball rolling. While things are different now, nearly five years later, it will take that kind of initiative and creativity to find out how to best educate the kids in the US post-covid.

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By Ashley Brewer
hi@sbly.com
Ashley Brewer is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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