In closing this series on zero tolerance policies, I would like to take an opportunity to provide some helpful links that parents can utilize to keep up with the changes happening by the Department of Education. The U.S. Department of Education provides various resources to help administrators develop their approach to school discipline, and can inform parents on the different ways their own districts can adapt some of these policies.
Schools in the following states and cities have already taken steps to create change in their school districts: Oakland, Los Angeles, and Vallejo City (CA); Baltimore (MD); Broward County (FL); and Syracuse and Buffalo (NY). The following are examples of how the above districts have applied some of these changes according to the Department of Education’s guidelines:
- Baltimore City Schools, with help from the Council of State Governments’ Discipline Consensus Project, revamped their code of student conduct for a more rehabilitative approach to misbehavior. The State Board of Education is implementing new discipline regulations—from giving school systems more flexibility in managing cases to requiring that students suspended for short periods are able to complete schoolwork they’ve missed.
- In 2013, LA Unified was the first district to ban suspensions for willful defiance, which disproportionately impacted African-American students. Student conduct violations like refusing to turn off a cellphone or failing to wear a school uniform are being done away with in favor of alternative discipline.
- Syracuse has adopted a new code of discipline, established training for staff in alternative approaches, and hired an independent monitor to oversee progress.
More schools and their districts are focusing on positive approaches such as the examples I described above. I would like to add that it is essential to offer teachers and staff classes in cultural practices addressing the different ways in which students and parents approach education.
The Rethinking Discipline section on the Department of Education website addresses various topics, and has links explaining issues such as:
- What Communities Should Know about School Resource Officers
- Supporting and Responding to Behavior: Evidence-Based Classroom Strategies for Teachers
- Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports: Implementation Blueprint and Self-Assessment
- Rethink Discipline through Teacher Leadership
- The Hidden Cost of Suspension: How can Kids Learn if They’re not in School?
- Suspension 101
Parents can get informed on the data regarding school suspensions as well as state laws, disability laws, and other laws which are important to understand. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, refer to your local district and the school your child attends. I hope that this blog series has been informative and helps you to seek out information regarding how your own schools address discipline.
The Department of Education website directs to the various topics mentioned I’ve discussed in this series as well as other links with information to explore the issues and policies of school discipline.
The National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments website addresses the following:
- Who is being disparately disciplined and what is happening to them
- The systemic causes of disparities in school discipline and why they occur
- How you can reduce and eliminate disparities in school discipline