Bryan Bohanan was kicked out of Noblesville, In., High School, after he threw the second punch in a hallway scuffle. The Indianapolis Star says the freshman’s punishment included a court date and three days of schoolwork, not loafing at home. “It’s real boring,” said Bryan, 14, who spent three days at a Hamilton County out-of-school suspension program. “I don’t like it.” That’s the point. Fewer Indiana students are sitting out school as principals embrace alternatives to old-fashioned suspension and expulsion.
The Star says that troublemakers now scrub pen ink off bathroom walls, take random drug tests, answer to juvenile court officials, and see anger management counselors. Many Indiana schools now give children second and third chances in an era when anti-bullying efforts and conflict resolution have trumped “zero tolerance” policies that arose after school shootings in the 1990s. The new effort was spurred in part by pressure to improve graduation rates and steer children away from the juvenile justice system. The move is a dramatic change for a state that was found in an Indiana University study this year to have the highest expulsion rates in the nation.