Staff Editorial—OSS: What’s the Point?

Students who get in trouble face a series of consequences. The ominous words “You have OSS” are what every student dreads, right?

At Northwood, Out of School Suspension is when a student is sent home from school, for an allotted time period, as a consequence for his or her misbehavior. The amount of time the student serves away from school depends on the severity of the misdemeanor. Up to three days of OSS can be the punishment for a third violation of nearly any rule, including cell phone use, tardies and dress code violations.

The fault in the system of OSS is that it does not deter repeat offenders. People who get in trouble are given OSS, which is such a slight punishment that they have no reason to stop misbehaving. It has become such a problem that some of the offenders end up enjoying OSS and do not see the point in returning to school.

Children who are troublemakers usually struggle academically and need to attend as many days at school as possible. A report co-authored by Daniel Losen, a Los Angeles lawyer and educator, found that if a student receives just one suspension, the risk of that child dropping out of school doubles from 16 percent to 32 percent. Students who are given two or more suspensions have a 49 percent risk of dropping out. Suspending students is not only a failed deterrent of misbehavior, but will also increase the dropout rate.

School is where learning takes place, and when students are removed from school, they are not gaining an education for that amount of time. If a student receives a three-day OSS, that student will have three days of work to make up on top of the class load they will be given upon their return.

Another problem with OSS is that staying at home, in the students’ eyes, isn’t a punishment. In fact, some students even look forward to receiving OSS. They view these days out of school as free rides since the absences are excused, not affecting failures due to absences. Most of us can agree that it would be more enjoyable to spend three days at home instead of an empty room at school.

We understand that the point of OSS is to remove potentially threatening students from peers, but the question arises of whether truly dangerous people should even be at school. Yes, Northwood is a public school and must accept anyone who enrolls, but students who are troublemakers and threaten the safety of others should receive counseling instead of OSS.

Yes, there is a limited amount of manpower to be able to offer counseling for all students, but we think it is the most effective way to spend our resources. Kids who show violent tendencies at the ages of 15, 16 and 17 need more intervention now, in order to prevent further dangerous behaviors.

Instead of OSS, we propose implementing weekend hours. Students who break the rules would be given a certain amount of hours in detention that can only be served during the weekend at school under supervision. If the student fails to show up without an acceptable excuse, more hours will be added to the already existing.We realize this proposition would come with its own challenges, but we feel it is the appropriate approach to combating misbehavior.

To the student sitting at home wasting their time in OSS, we know your frustration and also want to see the system change.