New discipline code kicks in today for high school students
Jacob Hunter is doing math and is bored stiff.
Jacob is suspended this week from Toronto’s Northern Secondary School for breaking rules and disrupting class. But instead of watching TV at home for five days, he’s still at school, separate but supervised, doing his work with a teacher nearby and talking with a youth counsellor — well, starting to — about why he gets into trouble.
This is the new look of school suspensions starting today across Ontario, as a kinder, gentler code of discipline that puts prevention before punishment kicks in for the province’s two million students.
Forget Zero Tolerance. This is a new Ground Zero for tolerance.
While students still must be kicked out for having a weapon, selling drugs, stealing, sexual assault or a fight that sends someone to hospital — and may be suspended for bullying, swearing at a teacher, being drunk in class, vandalism or being found with drugs — no longer will they simply be cast adrift in hopes they’ll snap out of it on their own.
Starting today, Queen’s Park requires every student suspended for more than five days to be offered a program to help them keep up with school work and, if need be, counselling. Until now, this was not required, although some school boards ran programs for suspended students. Moreover, principals now must consider a string of "mitigating factors" before issuing a suspension.
The Toronto District School Board is adding four new programs for suspended and expelled students, including a media course for expelled teenaged girls and a program where expelled students work on a Habitat For Humanity construction site.