DOJ/USDE Issues New Polcies and Guidance on School Discipline, Code of Conduct and Safety

 

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At the outset, this message speaks to school district policy regarding student discipline and code of conduct related concerns, among other things.

The U.S. departments of Education and Justice issued new guidance today on how schools should create equitable discipline policies that don’t discriminate against ethnic groups or rob students of valuable class time.

In a nutshell, the objective surrounding the new guidelines is to prevent “school to prison pipeline,” increase and implement mental health/interventional resources and facilitate learning opportunities for students in need of intervention with an eye toward mitigating district exposure and liability that could result from percieved or actual arbitrary discipline and related decision making.

DOJ press release:
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2014/January/14-ag-0014.html

Ed Week article:
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rulesforengagement/2014/01/new_federal_school_discipline_guidance_addresses_discrimination_suspensions.html?cmp=SOC-EDIT-FB

According to Department of Justice, in collaboration with the Department of Education (ED), schools should develop practices and strategies to enhance school climate, and ensure policies and practices comply with federal law. Even though incidents of school violence have decreased overall, many schools are still struggling to create positive, safe environments. Schools can improve safety by making sure that climates are welcoming, and that responses to misbehavior are fair, non-discriminatory, and effective. The guidelines encourage schools to strive to keep police out of disciplinary issues with priority wherever possible. The guidelines provide a “Dear Colleague Letter” which the DST may want to review.

NASRO (National Assoc. of School Resource Officers) agrees that police should stay out of school discipline deferring to PBIS with police as a last resort.

http://globenewswire.com/news-release/2014/01/09/601224/10063577/en/NASRO-agrees-police-should-stay-out-of-school-discipline.html

http://www.nasro.org/

With regard to NY, SNYPJOA (State of NY Juvenile Police Assoc) has not yet issued a press release on this subject from what I can tell.
http://www.snypjoa.org/index.html

According to my research, several reputable SRO related sources, including NASRO, reccommend bulding a strong MOU between district and SRO outlining responsibilties including, but not limited to, Use of Force policies, PBIS and incident management and protocol.

PBIS is a framework or approach for assisting school personnel in adopting and organizing evidence-based behavioral interventions into an integrated continuum that enhances academic and social behavior outcomes for all students. http://www.pbis.org/default.aspx

In the meantime, the NYCLU offers some advice to students so that they know their rights with police in school.

http://www.nyclu.org/content/palm-card-know-your-rights-with-police-schools

Here is the DOJ Guidance Package and Dear Colleague Letter: 

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/school-discipline/index.html

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