Harrington Elementary in Albion dramatically improved its suspension rate in its second year, a change the Marshall Public Schools district credits to better leadership.
Marshall annexed Albion’s schools in 2016. It opened Harrington that fall. The school issued 159 out-of-school suspensions to 112 students in its first year, a rate far above that of Marshall’s other elementary schools, which had just 27 out-of-school suspensions combined. Marshall hired a new principal, Robert Giles.
“Robert came in with a different mindset,” said MPS Superintendent Randy Davis. “His mindset was, ‘My babies don’t go home. We keep our children in the building, we work with them with positive engagement.’”
Records show that in the 2017-2018 year just three students received out-of-school suspensions.
Wanda Kemp’s son is going into the fifth grade at Harrington. Kemp says she felt she wasn’t being heard in 2016-2017, when she tried to talk to school officials who frequently sent her son home. Last year, Kemp says, the staff became more communicative. She said she was able to work with the principal, teachers and others and on a plan to keep “my son in school and get him educated like he’s there to do.”
Kemp says her son was sent home much less often last year.
“Little petty things was getting him sent home last year, where I just felt like they didn’t want to deal with the students. This year the staff was required to deal with those situations,” she said.