Suspending judgment - Page 5

SFUSD considers alternatives to suspensions that some say unfairly impact students of color

Guardian photo by Brittany M. Powell

Mission High's principal, Eric Guthertz, is energized by the challenge. He revamped the way the school teaches to address race and ethnicity directly.

The geometry teachers use Bayview district planning data to illustrate mathematical lessons, and teachers look at grades by ethnicity and address disparities directly.

Guthertz credited Restorative Practices with lowering the school's suspensions. SFUSD data shows Mission High's steady suspension decline, with a 14 percent suspension rate in 2009, before the program started, and down to a 0.4 percent suspension rate by 2012.


Mission High School Principal Eric Guthertz. Guardian photo by Brittany M. Powell

"We've deeply embraced Restorative Practices," he said.

Next week San Francisco will see if the Board of Education will take the same leap Gutherz did. As he is quick to point out, shifting the culture at Mission High School took years.

The Guardian contacted members of the school board, but did not hear back from them before press time to see how they may vote.

Either way, it's time for SFUSD to change its ways, Haney said. But no matter what side of the matter you fall on, he said, it's important to remember one thing.

"Everyone involved in this conversation wants to do better by these students," he said.

The San Francisco Board of Education will vote on the ban of willful defiance suspensions and full implementation of Restorative Practices at their Dec. 10 meeting.