PATERSON - The president of the Paterson Education Association says he is concerned with the number of out-of-school suspensions the district issued for young students last year.
John McEntee Jr. says that out of the 6,691 kindergarten through second-grade students enrolled in the district, 238 students were issued out of school suspensions.
"As a parent of an almost a school-aged child, I was mortified to see that many suspensions had occurred,” McEntee says.
Some New Jersey lawmakers are also concerned about out-of-school suspensions. Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly co-sponsored a bill, which passed earlier this month, which calls for out-of-school suspensions only for serious issues like violence, sexual assaults or weapons.
A spokesperson for the Paterson school district tells News 12 New Jersey that while in-school suspensions are preferred, staffing issues at the elementary schools prevented them from being given out.
"Staffing issue or not, you have to really make something happen here,” Wimberly says. “When you suspend a child that is 5, 7 years old, not only does it become an issue for the child but the parent also.”
The Paterson district spokesperson says that while the number of suspensions may seem high, there are a larger number of students in the district as compared to other municipalities.
The district says it is currently in the process of revising the student code of conduct in order to be in compliance with Wimberly’s bill.