When mentioned, engagement with poverty in policy is usually thin. Much like the unelaborated mentions of “homelessness” found throughout school policy, unelaborated mentions of “poverty” are the extent of engagement with poverty in policies of some provinces and territories. In these cases, poverty is named but the ways in which schools must address poverty, how schools’ responses to poverty will be assessed as working or not, and what goals schools ought to pursue in impacting poor students, are not discussed, which severely limits the policy mandate for schools to offer tangible supports to poor students.
For example, an official New Brunswick Department of Education manual (which admittedly is not strictly policy) for Implementing a Comprehensive and Developmental School Counselling Program only names “socioeconomic status.” Given that poverty and homelessness are closely connected, and given that homeless students are almost all poor and poor students are at higher risk of homelessness, a lack of policies mandating substantial support for poor students from schools contributes to a lack of policy mandating substantial support for homeless students from schools.
“Policy 322: Inclusive Education” of the New Brunswick Department of Education and Early Childhood Development states:
“Inclusive public education … Is universal – the provincial curriculum is provided equitably to all students … [and] [i]s respectful of student and staff diversity in regards to their race, colour, religion, national origin, ancestry, place of origin, age, disability, marital status, real or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity, sex, social condition or political belief or activity.“
The New Brunswick Anglophone North School District stands out from the rest of the districts for its multiple grounds for automatic suspensions, which are not insignificant in length, and which have wide latitude for school authorities’ discretion to disallow students to return.
Instant suspension of 5 days for drug possession/influence! This “may” be applied for drug paraphernalia too. “For a second infraction, a long-term suspension may be imposed, and the student may be suspended from participation in all school sponsored activities for the duration of that school year. The length of the school suspension shall be contingent on the nature of the offence.” This, vague language provides the option to exclude a student from school for a long time.
New Brunswick also basically has a one-strike policy for whatever is deemed to be a weapon: “A student found to be in possession of a weapon is subject to suspension for one full semester or an equivalent period of time. A threat assessment must be completed before the student can be readmitted to school.”
So you can be immediately suspended for a full semester for a laser pen: “The use of laser pens are banned from use in district schools. Because of the potential of laser pens to cause serious injury to one’s vision, they will be considered as a weapon for purposes of this policy.”
“A student who is aggressively hostile is subject to an immediate suspension of up to five(5) days. For a second infraction, a long-term suspension must be imposed, and the student will be suspended from participation in all school-sponsored activities for the duration of that school year. The length of the suspension will be contingent on the nature and gravity of the offense. Re-admittance will be dependent upon proof of action taken toward improved conduct.”