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(by Gustavo Ramirez, Guidance Counselor) - Education, at San Pedro High School and in general, is about bringing out the best in our young students - helping them to develop their minds, bodies and souls. The word ‘education’ is derived from the Latin words,
*educare, to bring up
*educere, to bring out, bring forth what is within, bring out potential  
*ducere, to lead

Based on our 40 years experience and on research in the field of education, out-of-school suspensions (OSS) prove to be rather ineffective, perhaps even detrimental to students.  In San Pedro, students who must stay home during suspensions are, in effect, on vacation; many who work at the Town Council during their days in suspension actually enjoy their time away from school. So, do we bring out the best in our suspended students by giving them an escape/vacation from school?  

San Pedro High School is now implementing in-school suspensions (ISS) as an alternative to punish misbehaving students (who distract other students, and/or are a danger to them) without requiring them to miss instructional days. The idea is for suspended students to carry out time-on-tasks in a more structured and supervised environment. Moreover, by keeping suspended students in school, but in a separate and isolated room, we show students that they must face the consequences of their misbehavior.  

Some characteristics of San Pedro High School’s ISS program include:  
* students must come to school in uniform but must remain in an isolated room, away from all other students
* students are accountable for daily class assignments and/or tests while they are in isolation; teachers/supervisors work with them daily
* the guidance counselor spends quality time with suspended students to show them why their behavior is unacceptable or merits a suspension; and, he provides intensive counseling to ‘guide’ students in the right direction (behavior identification and replacement counseling)
* students must reflect on their misbehavior and show ‘in writing’ (worksheets and essays) alternatives that could be chosen in lieu of the misbehavior
* parents of suspended students are required to participate in the program (parental disapproval of student misbehavior required)
* a regular follow-up is done on each suspended student so that he/she is not allowed to fall back into old patterns or misbehaviors (behavior modification process)

San Pedro High School’s new suspension program is not merely a punitive or temporary controlling program that resembles solitary confinement. Rather, the program involves rehabilitation and functional behavior assessment and replacement, while it continues to provide an engaging and challenging learning environment for suspended students. Consequently, we make every effort to reduce students’ rule infringements, and still maintain the integrity of their education by ensuring that we do not disrupt the educational process.

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Dorian Nuñez's picture

Dorian Nuñez


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    I believe that the intention to make suspension effective in reducing antisocial behaviors was a basis for starting this new "suspension program". I do not have a degree is pyschology or education as I am sure Mr. Ramirez has with his postion, but from what I know, research based programs that have consistenly been supported by their findings to be effective, are the best programs to incorporate. Reading this article, I understood that Mr. Ramirez has done extensive research to create or decide which strategies will be most effective to implement in this program. 

    Molding behavior is not brought about through harsh punishment or isolation alone. Like Mr. Ramirez states, it is crucial for the student to realize why his or her actions are wrong, of course this may take more than the week of suspension but through follow ups and effective counseling sessions, the student may alter his or her antisocial behaviors.

    All of this is great if it works, but I want to stress the importance of also implementing prevention programs into the school curricula. Students NEED opportunities to grow outside the classrom. The San Pedro community needs to work together to create after school activities for not only high school students but also elementary school students, who do not have anything productive to do after classes. My goal is to start an after school program on the island upon completion of my degree. But I encourage those that have the potential to get things started to do so, because it will make a difference in the lives of many children and youths. 

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    I believe that suspensions should be harsher than demerits or detentions! If a student is suspended for something like bringing spiked brownies or rum they should be ashamed and embarrassed for their actions!! Punishment for a child is not a cozy chair in the corner of the class!! Embarrass them and give them a punishment that would really make them think twice about doing it again and set an example for other students. Once upon a time S.P.H.S. used to have 3 days of work...make them go pick up garbage with the dump trucks, make them sweep the streets or do labour around the school compound!! This was punishment back in the day and it used to work!! Mr. Nunez used to come up with all kinds of creative ways for us to think about the stupidness we used to do.  Stop letting these trouble makers make your school look so bad, and set examples before they get out of hand!! Would you be scared of time out?? 

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    i agree with this comment only if we had mr nunez still!!!!!!!!!!


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    Education starts at home.  School is where they are molded into being better citzen.  School alone cannot do the job.  Parents take a bold initiative to work with your child at home and teach him/her moral values and how to respect him/her self.  Teachers have to deal with a class of approximately 35 students and then they have to deal with the parents of thise children.  The load is very heavy on the teachers.  Lets start being responsible parents and do our job.  Mr. Ramirez keep up the great job! SPH is a good institution just need all us to make it the BEST!

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    People who give negative comments are totally missing the point and being unfair to the high school. First of all, teachers alone could never solve the issues of misbehaving children. A crucial part of this equation is the parents/guardians who should teach their children morals and guide them on the right path. Parents do you know where your children are? often times, late at night young children and teens can be seen wandering the streets of San Pedro late at night...what may I ask is their business out there? shouldn't they be at home safely doing something constructive? Secondly, often times children who misbehave come from broken homes where they are victims of all kinds of abuse or witnesses to abuse. Children are not blind...they are constantly observing what takes place in the home...are we as parents setting good examples for our children?  If a child comes from a home where there is turmoil, then one way of dealing with this situation is by acting out at school. How then can we solve this problem of misbehaving students with harsh punishment which they clearly do not respond to since they are "immune" to this from their experiences at home. Before we bash SPHS for trying to help the children of the San Pedro Community, we should think about how we can contribute....remember it takes a village to raise a child!!!


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    I really LOVE to see that the San Pedro community is finally willing to "get involved" with what happens at SPHS.  Perhaps I should have started to publish these articles a long time ago?!  I welcome all responses, and am "at the ready" with tons more material on education.   Gustavo Ramirez/ Counsellor San Pedro High

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    the suspended rules for the students at SPHS i believe is not that good, students are to be with the counsellor in his office, with AC?... these students will be glad to be ina room talking and doing nothing, i remember back then students where suspended they had to work hard. and it didnt affect them on school because they had to stay after class and serve a strick detention until who knows what time of the day. high school rules instead of getting strick and showing the students a valuable lesson on how to behave it is sad to see students to drop out from school and not continue thier education.

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