State Rep. Marty Walz recently joined with more than 100 policymakers, national experts, educators, law enforcement and court officials, students, parents and other stakeholders committed to improving school disciplinary policies.
The diverse, bipartisan national group, convened by The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, commenced work on recommendations for approaches to school discipline that keep kids in school and out of the juvenile justice system while providing a safe, positive learning environment.
“Our work will focus on how changes in school disciplinary policies and practices can support student engagement and learning, reduce juvenile justice system contact, and improve academic outcomes,” Walz. said “When students are removed from the classroom as a disciplinary measure, the odds increase dramatically that they will repeat a grade, drop out or become involved in the juvenile justice system.”.
The meeting is the first in a series being conducted for the CSG Justice Center’s School Discipline Consensus Project. The project is administered in coordination with the Supportive School Discipline Initiative launched by the U.S. Attorney General and the U.S. Secretary of Education in July 2011.
Millions of public school students in grades K‒12 are suspended or expelled in an academic school year, particularly in middle and high school. Although some state and local governments have taken promising steps to address the problems related to school discipline, decision makers and frontline practitioners lack a comprehensive approach to making school discipline more effective.
The multidisciplinary task force that met for two days in Washington, D.C., will develop smaller working teams and gather in both face-to-face and virtual meetings over the next 12 months as the project progresses. Participants will identify key issues and draw on research, promising practices from across the country, and the expertise and experience of individuals affected by school disciplinary measures to reach agreement on recommended policies and practices.
“Along with my colleagues in state legislatures everywhere, I eagerly await the recommendations that this project generates. For any strategy to be successful, it must reflect the support of people on the front lines of the education system and their partners in law enforcement and the courts, as well as parents and students. That’s why this consensus-building project is so important,” said CSG Justice Center Chair and Kansas State Rep. Pat Colloton.