Parents start petition against changes in suspension policy at Guilford County Schools

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Parents have started a petition against changes in the suspension policy at Guilford County Schools.

Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras proposed a plan that allows appeals for suspensions.

Parents say that gives her more power and are concerned there may be more violence in schools.

Marc Ridgill used to patrol schools as a school resource officer. He's also a parent of a current Guilford County student.

"It's not a good way of maintaining order on a school campus," he said.

He thinks Guilford County Schools' proposed suspension policies are creating dangers in the classroom.

The plan includes a longer appeal process for short-term suspensions, allowing students and families to turn to the superintendent if they can't agree on punishment with school leaders.

"If the principals aren't allowed to maintain order on these campuses and have to wait for the superintendent to get involved, how is that protecting students?" Ridgill said. "How is that having a safe learning environment? How is that protecting teachers?"

That changes could also allow students to avoid suspension even if they violate attendance policies.

"As a former SRO, I know when they're not in class, they're not up to good things. That's when things go missing and people get hurt," Ridgill said.

School board member Linda Welborn has to vote on these policies.

"It's almost like suspending, but with no help or support to try and change why this child is acting the way they're acting," she said.

There are questions she wants answered.

"They want me to approve a change to a policy that number one, I don't know the impact to principals," Welborn said. "I don't know if it's feasible. I don't know if we need personnel. I don't know if there's an additional cost."

She says discipline and immediate consequences are needed, but suspension may not be the best way to change student's behavior.

"Maybe instead of suspension, we can maybe do community service for kids. Instead of suspending them, they can do a program," Welborn said. "Why don't we look for strong alternatives that work, instead of focusing on reducing suspensions?"

Five-hundred signatures are needed for the petition.

As of 5 p.m. Monday evening, 240 people had signed.

FOX8 did reach out to Contreras' office for comment, but as of air time, had not heard back.

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