Manitoba

Winnipeg School Division suspensions drop 40% in 6 years

Suspensions in the Winnipeg School Division have dropped almost 40 per cent in the past six years because of the division's restorative justice approach, the school board chair says.

Fewer students drop out with restorative justice approach, board chair Mark Wasyliw says

"We need to have the students under our roof to do our job," said Mark Wasyliw, chair of the Winnipeg School Division board. (CBC)

Suspensions in the Winnipeg School Division have dropped almost 40 per cent in the past six years because of the division's restorative justice approach, the school board chair says.

"We're trying to get to the root of the problem," said Mark Wasyliw. "Why somebody is having problems, why they're acting out, and try to work out solutions where there's some consequence to that student, but we address what those issues are and get them the support they need."

The number of suspensions dropped from 1,645 in 2009-10 school year to 1,006 in the 2014-15 school year, a recent report from the division says.

In the past, suspended students would be isolated, and over time the students would be pushed out of the school system, Wasyliw said.

The graduation rate in the division was 69 per cent 10 years ago, and now it's more than 80 per cent, Wasyliw said. 

'Our programs are working'

"We need to have the students under our roof to do our job," he said. "The last thing that would be helpful to them and to us would be to get them out of our schools where we have no control over them and we can't modify any negative behaviour they have."

When students act out, the division sends them to extensive counselling and has a team that deals with the negative behaviour, he said.

The division is also part of a national survey that anonymously asks students about bullying, Wasyliw said. The national results showed the division had a higher percentage of students who have positive behaviour in the schools than the national average, he said.

"Our students feel less exclusion, harassment and bullying in their schools than the national average," he said. 

"We're getting data from multiple sources showing our programs are working, and the WSD is becoming a very safe community, in fact safer than the national schools."

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