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Apr 3, 2016 11:12 AM

More NH kindergartners are being suspended from school

CONCORD - More than 100 New Hampshire kindergartners were suspended from school last year and lawmakers want to know why.

The Concord Monitor reports both the N.H. House and Senate have passed a bill creating a six-member committee to study why students in kindergarten through third grade are suspended and sometimes expelled from schools across the state.

“We have to find out where most of this is happening and why it’s happening, because it needs to stop,” bill sponsor Rep. Mary Stuart Gile, D-Concord, told The Concord Monitor. “There’s no reason for a child to be suspended from kindergarten.”

The Concord Monitor reported almost 850 students in kindergarten through the third grade were suspended during the 2014-15 school year. Nearly two-thirds of those students – or about 523 – faced out-of-school suspensions, meaning they weren’t allowed on school grounds. That’s up from the 2013-14 school year, when roughly 450 students faced out-of-school suspensions, according to data collected from the N.H. Department of Education.

Overall, students in New Hampshire are far less likely to be expelled from school than those in other states, according to a recent study from the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. No students in kindergarten through third grade were expelled during the last school year. New Hampshire tracks closer to the national average when it comes to out-of-school suspensions, the study found. Nationwide, 10 percent of secondary students faced an out-of-school suspension in 2011-12, compared to 9 percent in New Hampshire.

State data shows that 79 kindergartners, out of 11,570 total, were suspended out of school during the 2014-15 school year. Another 22 faced in-school suspensions.

The percentage of students in kindergarten and first, second and third grades being suspended from school has increased slightly over the last two years, The Concord Monitor's analysis shows. For example, 2 percent of third graders in the 2013-14 school year were suspended, versus 2.25 percent in the 2014-15 school year.

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