Amistad Academy in New Haven and Achievement First Hartford Academy are both public charter schools run by Achievement First, with very similar enrollment numbers in the early grades. But while Amistad had 38 instances of suspension during the last school year among children age 6 and younger, Achievement First Hartford Academy had 114 in the same age group.
An even more dramatic comparison: The incidence of suspension of kindergartners and first graders at Achievement First Hartford Academy last year was an estimated nine times the rate in Hartford public schools.
Put another way, an estimated 11.7 percent of kindergartners and first-graders at Achievement First Hartford Academy were suspended last year an average of 5.4 times each. In the Hartford public school system, 3.3 percent of kindergartners and first-graders were suspended an average of 2.1 times.
Asked about Hartford's numbers, district spokesman David Medina said in an email response that "there are times that suspension is necessary for appropriate reasons. They are typically temporary and instruction is provided."
Marc Michaelson, regional superintendent for Achievement First, said the school, where students annually out-perform their Hartford peers by significant margins on state standardized tests, has "a very high bar for the conduct of our students and that's because we've made a promise to our scholars and our families that we are going to prepare them for college."
The cool thing is that if this is a problem at AF Providence, it can become a direct issue in both the mayoral and gubernatorial campaigns in 2014, thanks to our mayoral academy law.