BOSTON — Kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students were suspended 78 times at schools operated by a single nonprofit school management company in the 2014-15 school year, according to state data.
Now, the Boston-based UP Education Network says it will ban suspensions for their youngest students starting Wednesday.
“As a result of an internal evaluation of our practices, UP has decided to no longer issue suspensions to students in kindergarten,” Victoria Criado, UP Education Network spokesperson, said by email.
UP Education Network specializes in school turnaround for formerly underperforming schools. Since 2010, the school network has restarted five schools in Boston and Lawrence. Some are in-district charters.
Boston’s UP Academy Holland dealt out 68 suspensions last year to their 117 kindergarten students. That’s three times more suspensions than any other school in the state — and over 10 percent of the state’s 603 kindergarten and pre-kindergarten suspensions last year.
UP Academy Holland staff also suspended pre-kindergarten students three times, according to state data.
In late 2013, the former Holland Elementary School was placed in state receivership after years of underperformance. The state named UP Education Network the school’s receiver, meaning that UP now runs the school under state oversight. As receiver, UP can hire leaders and teachers and can set the curriculum.
Unlike many other charter operators, UP often re-enrolls the entire student population at the schools it restarts. In Holland’s 2014 turnaround plan, UP said it would continue to serve students at the school, as well as an expanded kindergarten class.
Elementary and secondary education commissioner Mitchell Chester said in a statement that UP has begun instituting change at the school. But he also called the high number of suspensions “surprising.”
“I am concerned when I see a high reliance on suspensions, and these figures are a wake-up call for us,” said Chester. “I am confident that they will approach discipline for young students differently in the future.”
UP Academy Dorchester, an in-district charter school operated by the same network, suspended kindergartners six times and pre-kindergarteners three times in the 2014-15 school year.