Return to Headlines

Asheville City Schools Will Create an Alternative to Suspension Service Option for Students Grades 6-9

Utilizing historical data, Asheville City Schools will repurpose 15% of the Exceptional Children's Department's Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) federal funds to create an Alternative to Suspension Service Option for students Grades 6-9.  Its creation will provide students with a short-term placement in-lieu of in-school or out or school suspensions.

Services will focus on core academics, social-emotional learning and leadership skills.  This will be carried out by one full-time dually-certified teacher, one full-time behavioral health assistant and one full-time leadership/social and emotional learning instructor.

A typical day will be made up of two academic blocks that focus on English Language Arts, Social Studies, Math and Science.  The dually-certified teacher will collaborate with instructors from the student’s home school using Canvas and other software supports to ensure instruction learned in their traditional classroom is being replicated while at the Alternative to Suspension Service Option. A third block will be dedicated to enhancing student leadership skills.  Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

All Asheville City Schools 6th - 9th Graders assigned with five or more cumulative suspension days are eligible for a minimum 30-day placement to the Alternative to Suspension Service Option.  At the end of the 30 days, a review meeting will take place with the student, their parent/guardian the alternative placement team as well as a representative from the student’s home school.  Together, they will discuss strategies that worked well and decide how they can be incorporated as the student transitions back to their home school.

Asheville City Schools' Alternative to Suspension Service Option will begin in Fall 2019.  One classroom in Montford North Star Academy has been selected as the site.

The need to create Asheville City Schools’ Alternative to Suspension Service Option is a result of significant disproportionality in the incidence, duration and type of disciplinary actions of African American students districtwide. 

The State of North Carolin’s Exceptional Children's Division, based on the federal government, has mandated that we reallocate funds to support alternatives to suspension.

Based on data from the 2017-2018 school year, Asheville City Schools African American students with disabilities were 6.13 times more likely to be removed than other classmates.     

This was a decrease from previous years.  Data from 2016-2017 showed African American students with disabilities were 7.27 times more likely to be removed, while data from the 2015-2016 school years showed the likelihood was 8.89 times.

Although Asheville City Schools has made progress, we fall below what is required by IDEA regulations.

During the 2018-2019 school year, the federal government changed its calculation regulations.  Previously, disproportionality was determined using three markers: long-term in-school suspensions, long-term out of school suspensions and short term out of school suspensions greater than 10 days.  Now, all disciplinary incidents by race are included in the annual risk ratio calculation.  This includes all long term and short term suspensions both in and out of school.

The Alternative to Suspension Service Option is a direct result of collaboration between the Student Services Department, Exceptional Children’s Department and the Curriculum and Instruction Department to create programming that best meets the needs of all students.

It will be submitted to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s IDEA-Part B (611) Grant in the Exceptional Children's Division  Friday, June 28th. 

We will inform our families of its progress.