More than 900 Jefferson County (Ky.) students in kindergarten through fifth-grade have received out-of-school suspensions at least once so far this school year.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that the number of students in the Jefferson County School District who have been suspended this year represents a nearly 68 percent jump compared with this time last school year.
The number of suspensions handed out in elementary schools is up more than 80 percent and has already surpassed the number of suspensions for the entire 2014-2015 school year.
The statistics raise questions about the role of suspensions in managing behavior - particularly the behavior of the district's youngest students.
Some states and school districts have taken steps to limit or eliminate out-of-school suspensions of elementary students.
Some researchers contend that suspending young children may create a self-fulfilling prophecy and place children at a disadvantage in school right at a time when it is critical for them to keep up with classmates.
The school district, which has about 100,000 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, says that middle and high school suspensions also are up, by about 20 percent at each level.
Assistant Superintendent Joe Leffert did not have an explanation why Jefferson County has experienced an increase in elementary suspensions, or in suspensions in general.