- Associated Press - Thursday, March 5, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Suspensions of children younger than 7 from Connecticut public schools jumped nearly 10 percent last year, according to a recent report by the state Department of Education. It prompted two state school board members to question policies calling for the suspension of young children.

The report, presented to the state Board of Education, said 1,217 children younger than 7 were suspended, up from 1,110 in 2013. The greatest increase in the number of children younger than 7 who were suspended was for kindergartners, at 600, up from fewer than 500.

Overall, fewer students have been suspended or expelled: 105,173 in the 2013-14 school year, down from 126,922 in 2009-10.

Board Chairman Allan Taylor expressed surprise at the number of young children who were suspended, The Hartford Courant reported.

“The under 7 numbers remain astounding,” he said. “It strikes me that if a kid is that difficult to deal with, then it’s a reason to be providing intensive support. There is no evil intent in kindergarten students, and it’s hard to see how taking that kid away from the place where he could be getting help is going to improve that child’s prospects.”

Theresa Hopkins-Staten, vice-chairwoman of the board, said she finds it “very difficult” to understand what such a young child would do to warrant suspension.

“That in my mind says something about the child’s home life that needs to be investigated and responded to,” she said.

Reasons for suspensions were violation of school policies, fighting, physical or verbal confrontation and personally threatening behavior.

School officials in Bridgeport and Hartford said Thursday that they also were concerned about the number of suspensions in their schools and have taken measures that have helped decrease suspensions this school year.

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