What happens when suspensions get suspended?Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

This story was originally produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news outlet focused on education.

LOS ANGELES — When Abram van der Fluit began teaching science more than two decades ago, he tried to ward off classroom disruption with the threat of suspension: “I had my consequences, and the third consequence was you get referred to the dean,” he recalled.

Suspending kids didn’t make them less defiant, he said, but getting them out of the school for a bit made his job easier. Now, suspensions for “willful defiance” are off the table at Maywood Academy High School, taking the bite out of van der Fluit’s threat.

Lawmakers argued that suspensions for relatively minor infractions, like talking back to a teacher, harmed kids, including by feeding the school-to-prison pipeline.

Mikey Valladares, a 12th grader there, said when he last got into an argument with a teacher, a campus aide brought him to the school’s restorative justice coordinator, who offered Valladares a bottle of water and then asked what had happened. “He doesn’t come in … like a persecuting way,” Valladares said. “He’d just console you about it.”