Closing the Suspension Cycle in Wake County

The goal for every school should be to encourage and uplift students, helping them to achieve their best potential. However, if students feel ridiculed by the school, it will be a shot in the dark for students to achieve academic success. Every student is different at the Drive, coming from so many corners of the world with many life stories, Some of these stories have the potential to impact a student’s will to be motivated academically.  

In the 2017-2018 school year, there were 160,471 students in Wake County, with 26 public high schools for these students to attend. Out of these 171 schools, 11,884 suspensions were made in the 2016-2017 school year, with those suspensions only being made of 6,978 students. 5,040 suspensions of those 11,884 were high school students. 

Although Wake County’s suspension rate has dramatically decreased since the 2012-2013 school year, there is still room for improvement. 2012-2013 suspension rate of 15,723; and 2016-2017 suspension rate has helped students stay in school, keeping their concentration focused on class. However, even small suspensions make a difference. Studies show that students who have been suspended in high school are more likely to drop out. 

In the 2016-2017 school year, according to, 78 students dropped out of Athens Drive High School. Although it is impossible to know why these students decided to end their high school career, statistically, suspension might have been a factor. According to studies at Stanford University and a peer reviewed article written by Professors at the University of Arkansas, this drop out rate could be linked to suspensions. After suspensions, it is shown that students are more likely to return to an unhealthy school environment and have antisocial behaviors. If these situations are not handled correctly, it could lead to students feeling unimportant, as if they, or their academic career is useless. 

Schools across America are now starting to realize the harm suspensions are causing and are looking for alternative solutions. Schools across America are starting to use community service, interventions and restorative justice programs to help students address their issues instead of losing class time. Community service is meant to help students learn discipline as they learn from their mistakes. Interventions are meant for students to address their problems, some of them being drug or alcohol while others might include tensions between students. Restorative justice is also designed for students to address their issues head on, with the student in question faced to sit in front of a judge of their peers as they talk about what they did and how it affected their classmates. 

With studies showing these alternative solutions work, it is still a mystery why Wake County and more specifically, Athens Drive has not implemented projects to help change our schools. Students should feel welcomed by staff, no matter what rule they have broken. The role of school facility is to uplift and help students. Short or long term suspension creates a broken cycle keeping students in a loop of feeling rejected. If we want students to feel that they can succeed after making mistakes, we must treat them as people, not as outcasts.