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Sci Academy leaders cite numerous reasons for high suspension rate

The board of Collegiate Academies met in January to discuss financial data and an article published in the Advocate, which described the correlation between high suspension rates and low school performance scores in charter schools throughout the New Orleans area.

In the article, Collegiate’s Sci Academy is mentioned as having the second-highest suspension rate at 49.2 percent, though also demonstrating a break in the suspension-school performance relationship by maintaining a B level performance score.

Ben Marcovitz, the organization’s chief executive officer, explained the high suspension rates as a product of an open-enrollment school serving high-need students and a consistently enforced and reported disciplinary system. Marcovitz said that despite the high suspension rate, Collegiate Academy schools still have attendance rates of 90 percent and higher.

“We have to decide, what is worth not having a scholar in school the next day?,” Marcovitz said, noting that suspending a student to foster better participation in school is better than having large numbers of students who regularly do not attend classes.

Marcovitz said that the school focuses on behavior plans once a student returns from an out of school suspension and that Collegiate Academies’ expulsion rate remains at less than one percent.

“Ninety-five percent of our disciplinary action is proactive—all the things like rewards, activities and privileges that you see in our hallways,” Marcovitz said.

Finance committee chair Doug Finegan reported the organization remains on track to a six percent surplus this fiscal year. This growth revenue will help the school overcome a financial cliff facing many charters as large, one-time grants offered at their founding run out.

The finance committee also deferred a special audit of credit cards until school finance directors have been given access to the cards for several months. School leaders hope the audit will find the directors are responsible in the way they handle credit cards.

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