Parents and activists trying to change schools' approach to disciplining children via suspension and expulsion will gather on Saturday in Northeast Portland.

The National Week of Action on School Pushout
launches Saturday, September 28, 2013, with conference at Concordia University at 2811 NE Holman from 10 am to 4 pm.

For the fourth year in a row, the Portland Parent Union and several other local groups are calling for a moratorium on out of school suspensions, a practice Portland Public Schools uses two and a half times as often as in-school-suspensions (according to 2012-13 data).

As WW reported this week, PPS has spent millions to reduce the high incidence of African American student being suspended or expelled. Since that program began, the overall incidence of such disciplinary actions has declined but the already large disparity between blacks and whites has grown wider.

The Parent Union is joining Dignity in Schools National Week of Action on School Pushout to call for an end to the practice of out-of-school suspensions.

PPS students lose over 10,000 instructional days a year to out-of-school suspensions and expulsions. According to recent research from the Journal on School Violence, Indiana University and others, out-of-school suspensions do little to improve school safety or deter misbehavior and correlate negatively to academic achievement.

In response to a similar effort last year by Portland Parent Union, which works with families and others affected by school discipline, PPS spokesman Robb Cowie said the district does not support a moratorium because it is making progress on discipline in other ways, including the district's racial sensitivity training, Courageous Conversations.