Reform School Discipline Policies
Reform policies and practices that disproportionately impact youth of color and students with disabilities and further compromise their ability to thrive and succeed:
- Reform rules pertaining to school disproportionality of behavior referrals, suspensions, expulsions, special education, advanced courses, etc. and ensure that multi- tiered levels of support are in place to prevent disproportionality and systems are created to monitor and create accountability.
- Eliminate the option for out- of-school suspensions and expulsions for students in pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade.
- Update school discipline policies to align with positive youth development and restorative justice frameworks.
- School personnel, where appropriate, should work collaboratively with parents, students, and community organizations, including law clinics and legal service organizations to develop alternative interventions for different types of behavior.
- Mandate annual cultural responsiveness and anti-racism professional development training for teachers and staff – including teachers, staff, community partners and law enforcement officers in schools (i.e. School Resource Officer – SRO).
- Ensure that any school-based law enforcement officers’ roles focus on improving school safety while reducing inappropriate referrals to law enforcement.
- Create a public reporting system for discipline data and alternative education placements. Ensure that data can be disaggregated by misbehavior type, age, gender, race/ethnicity, date of incident and response. For each student referred to alternative education, data collection should also include alternative service provider name, attendance, actual services provided, and graduation. All data should be carefully reviewed for disproportionality with special attention given to:
- High schools where suspension and expulsion rates and consequences can be high;
- Disparities in suspensions and services for African American students, especially boys;
- Prevention and de-escalation of conflict, especially between students and teachers.
- Juvenile court, municipal court, and related staff and service providers should be trained on educational rights issues, anti-bias, and cultural responsiveness and ensure court-involved, court-supervised, and/or state-placed youth are provided with appropriate educational services and supports, including change-of- placement reviews, special education services, and other supports. To ensure accountability and enforcement, create the Missouri Youth Justice Ombudsman Office.
- Mandate training for school personnel and partnering community-based organizations on the needs and legal and constitutional rights of students, as well as resources available for students.
While policy changes are important to changing the landscapes of our schools, it is only effective when paired with culture changes. Engage with your child’s school to facilitate a great school climate and culture for all students, teachers and administrators. This can take the form of attending PTA meetings, starting discussion groups with other parents, or…