Asking the board for help

Local attorney Richard Goldstein addresses the Mercer County Board of Education last week about the number of out-of-school suspensions in Mercer County. Goldstein continues to advocate for a board-appointed committee to study the issue in greater depth.

A local attorney continues his efforts to get the Mercer County Board of Education to examine the number of out-of-school suspensions in their school system.

Richard Goldstein addressed the board of education in October concerning truancy and out-of-school suspensions, explaining at that time, that out-of-school suspensions are considered truancy under Mercer County’s Board Policy J-10 (Attendance). He urged the board to form a committee to study the issue, an idea which gained little traction with the board.

Goldstein was back before the board last Tuesday night.

“In accordance with state disciplinary guidelines, the principals decide whether to suspend a child and for how long,” He told the board that night. “But at the end of the day, it is the board, the superintendent, and the citizens of Mercer County who bear the responsibility for the fact that our schools are send so many children home or out to run the streets instead of educating them.”

Goldstein added Mercer County had a below state-average attendance rate without noting the ill-effects of not attending school: the rate of dropping out increases, the likelihood of incarceration increases, and the likelihood of graduation and matriculation to college decreases.

Data available from the West Virginia Department of Education confirmed Mercer County had an attendance rate below the state average.

The attorney believes the rate of attendance can be increased if the board creates a committee designed to examine the number of out-of-school suspensions in Mercer County.

He added, “I believe that Mercer County can be proactive and creative in the fight to reduce absenteeism, especially suspensions. To keep more of our children in school requires a willingness to undertake a process that takes time, work and expense.”

Goldstein ended his public speaking time by again urging the board to create a committee on absenteeism to study the issue.

- Contact Matt Christian at mchristian@ptonline.net.

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