in Houston, Texas
Big school districts in Texas spent $227 million last year on disciplinary programs: Report
Tuesday, Oct 30, 2012, 09:38AM CST
By Mark Lisheron

Taxpayers in 11 of the biggest school districts in Texas spent $227 million during the 2010-11 school year to protect and punish children, according to a study by a non-profit group calling for less expensive alternatives.

Texas Appleseed intends to present its study, Breaking Rules, Breaking Budgets, before a joint hearing to discuss public school disciplinary policies before the state Senate Education and Criminal Justice committees Tuesday morning at the Capitol.

The report concluded the 11 districts surveyed spent $140 million in a single school year on disciplinary and juvenile justice programs for suspended and expelled students, Associated Press reported Monday afternoon. Campus police and security and monitoring equipment and personnel cost another $87 million.

The school districts surveyed - Bryan, Conroe, Cypress-Fairbanks, Dallas, Fort Bend, Fort Worth, Houston, Humble, Northside, Plano, San Antonio - educate a quarter of the roughly 5 million students enrolled in public schools in Texas. There are about 1,050 school districts in the state.

In its report, Texas Appleseed, volunteer lawyers and other professionals promoting social and economic justice, offers alternative disciplinary programs it contends are more effective and less expensive.

Districts could maintain higher federal funding reimbursements by raising their average attendance by suspending only students who threaten staff and student safety or damage to the school.

Atlantic Philanthropies, the Houston Endowment, the Public Welfare Foundation and The Boone Foundation helped fund the Texas Appleseed study.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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