Putting Education Reform To The Test

Miami-Dade Schools Eliminating Out-Of-School Suspensions

Posters advertise new Miami-Dade County school choice programs.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Posters advertise new Miami-Dade County school choice programs.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools plan to eliminate out-of-school suspensions this year, preferring to keep kids in class and address behavior problems.

School districts around the country have made similar decisions because research and experience shows suspended students often find more trouble outside of school while on suspension. That can mean more neighborhood crime – and more suspended students getting arrested and charged.

Miami-Dade schools have included $3.2 million dollars in the district budget to eliminate out-of-school suspension.

“Traditional outdoor suspensions and disciplinary actions don’t work,” said Miami-Dade schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho. “We ought to understand the root causes of student misbehavior…to actually address the human being behind the behavior, rather than simply condemning it and applying a consequence to it.”

The district is setting up “success centers” so suspended students don’t disrupt classrooms. The centers are staffed by teachers, social workers and other service providers to work with the students – and keep them on their classwork.

“This is not going to be a vacation” for suspended students, said Carvalho.

Research shows that minority students and students with disabilities are more likely to be disciplined than their classmates. A recent study showed black girls in Miami-Dade public schools were disproportionately disciplined.

Carvalho said the district will review who is disciplined and why, but he wants eliminating out-of-school suspensions to be the priority.

The district’s revised discipline policy was just one of many new ideas coming this fall in Miami-Dade public schools.

Students will have 53 more magnet and school choice programs, including a CSI-inspired forensic science program and a national security program. Miami-Dade public schools now have more than 500 school choice programs. More than half of district students are enrolled in a choice program.

Students will also have an easier time getting to those programs with new bus hubs. Students will have to get to the “flex stops” on their own, but once there they can catch a ride to magnet programs across the county.

As a result, say school leaders, the flex stops will give more students a chance to enroll in magnet programs.

Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho, right, Gov. Rick Scott and Southside Elementary principal Salvatore Schiavone tour the school last year.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho, right, Gov. Rick Scott and Southside Elementary principal Salvatore Schiavone tour the school last year.

Some of those students will have access to the Internet while on that bus ride. The district is installing WiFi on some of its buses this year. The buses can also work as a hotspot. Carvalho says a bus could stop at a park and provide Internet access in a neighborhood that might not have a library or other public WiFi.

And some parents will be able to track their kids as they ride the bus to and from school. The county will install GPS on about one-third of its buses. Parents can use a smart phone app to track the bus’ location.

The district is also opening a community health clinic at Miami Northwestern Senior High School while emphasizing science, technology, engineering and math programs – particularly those that teach computer programming, or coding.


  • marvin purser

    love what I am reading about providing programs for all the kids and the ability of parents to track their kids to and fro while they ride the buses. Would like to see if this program itself can also be tracked to see if it helped increase the number of students who actually turned in homework, and raised their grades accordingly.

  • b bob

    What teacher would want that duty! Congrats, you get to watch the bad kids!

    • Mary Anne Boissiere

      How terribly insensutive. Suspensions are a result of an event or incident, rarely do school districts take the approach Miami Dade School distinct has implemented. Zero Tolerance comes at a great cost to the students and the community. Labelling students these students as bad kids is an indicator that you are extremely unaware of the many root causes of bevhaviors and the issues students deal with on a day to day basis. I hope this program becomes a model program accross the country.

  • tsk tsk

    Another major school system for the thugs to dominate and spread their crime to the schools.

  • Nancy Trevino

    I want to point out that the community that was responsible for this victory is not mentioned in the story. Power U Center for Social Change in Miami, FL has been organizing for 8 years to get Restorative Justice implemented into Miami-Dade County Public Schools as an alternative to out of school suspensions. Youth from across the county diligently organized their fellow students and community members to turn out to school board meetings to demand an end to zero-tolerance policies. They are the experts as they are the ones who are impacted by these policies. Please be sure to talk to the community who is responsible for this incredible change.

    Nancy Treviño
    Dignity in Schools Campaign

    • Mary Anne Boissiere

      Hi Nancy,
      Is it possible for me to contact someone from Power U Center for social change. I can be reached via my professional FB page:
      Search for
      Mary Anne Boissiere Leach EdD

  • Efi Geerman

    Carvalho should give a public appreciation for Power U Center for Social Change in Miami instead of taking undeserved credit for this change.

  • Maria Trueba

    Good point! PACT has been working with School Administration on this since 2012 – many community members have pushed for this change. We are glad that things things are moving forward! Way to go PACT!

  • Glennys

    I love what am reading but if the teacher was to really use it. ! The only time these policy is used is when your office gets involved! Let’s be honest! CSI in Hialeah Floridamiddle school is not science is used for kids who get in trouble and they sit in a class room with a dictionary writing from the dictionary.what are they really learning?

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