New York State has the chance to be a national leader on school climate reform by following the U.S. Department of Education’s three guiding principles for states: (1) create positive school climates; (2) develop more appropriate rules and consequences; (3) ensure fairness and equity through use of data to improve. With the federal government and major districts around the country moving to address these issues, NYS can’t afford to fall behind.
Discipline Codes Should Be Fair:
- Fair Codes of Conduct on school property should be developed with the help of students, parents, and teachers
- They should include proven practices such as: restorative justice programs, peer mediation, referrals to appropriate services, and parent involvement
- Expulsions and suspensions should be used as a last resort
- Law enforcement interaction with students and the number of arrests should be limited
- Students and parents should be informed of their rights and due process regarding any disciplinary action
Let’s Understand the Problem:
- Annual reports on student discipline and arrest numbers should be available to everyone
- These reports should show numbers broken up by individual schools, race/ethnicity, gender, disability status, etc. so improvements can be made
Let’s Invest in Real Solutions:
- The state budget should have dedicated funding for school districts to implement alternatives to unfair policies and make real changes in school climate that promote school safety and student success. Many model programs exist. We just need to get them to scale.