News and Events: Positive Approaches

Building the Right Cross-Systems Team to Support your Diversion: The Responder Model

Please join the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice (NCMHJJ) and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) on Tuesday, February 9, at 3:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (EST), for the second in a four-part webinar series on school-based juvenile justice diversion models for youth with behavioral health needs. The series provides guidance on the essential components of effective school-based diversion

Suspensions and Expulsions Decline as Districts Adopt Alternatives, State says

EdSource

A change of approach to school discipline in California schools has resulted in a decline in the number and percentage of students suspended and expelled in academic year 2014-2015 in comparison to academic year 2013-2014 across ethnic groups. State Superintendent Tom Torlakson attributes the shift toward resolving behavior issues in lieu of classroom removals as the causal mechanism for the decline. Effective solutions, restorative practices, and mediation to regulate emotions have contributed to the 13.9 percent decline in expulsions and the 12.8 percent decline in suspensions, according to Torlakson.

Is 'Zero Tolerance' Failing Iowa Schools?

The Des Moines Register

In the state of Iowa the excessive use of suspensions since 2009 has come under much scrutiny. In the last school year, school officials in Iowa suspended students 56,032 times. Though this figure is a reduction from higher numbers in recent times, education advocates see signs of a broken-system.

An overwhelming majority of suspensions were classified as either being caused by disruptive behavior or attendance; 4% of suspensions were the result of ‘fighting without injury’  “By spending time away from the classroom, students are missing out on education and they’re falling behind,” said Nazgol Ghandnoosh, a research analyst for the Sentencing Project, a civil rights advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.

New York Attorney General Calls for Albany School Reforms on School Discipline

New York State Office of the Attorney General/WYNT

An Investigation by the New York Attorney General’s office found that over a  five year period Albany School District suspended one in eight students each school year, disproportionately affecting minority and disabled students. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman came to an agreement with the Albany School District to ensure that school discipline policies are not discriminatory in nature and practice. A. G. Schneiderman took specific aim at the school-to-prison-pipeline which has obstructed vulnerable children from receiving services they need help to succeed.

Despite Minneapolis Moratorium, K-1 Kids Still Getting Suspended

Star Tribune

A kindergartner in Minneapolis Public Schools got suspended last school year for playing with ChapStick and then fleeing the classroom after being told to stop. Another student was suspended for climbing over a railing. One student was sent home for refusing to follow directions.

None of these suspensions should have happened under a new moratorium that banned such discipline for kindergartners and first-graders who commit nonviolent offenses. But 50 times over the past school year, administrators ignored the rule and sent students home for disruptive behavior, according to a Star Tribune review of suspension records.

St. Paul School Suspensions Drop, But Racial Disparities Stick Around

Twin Cities Pioneer Press

Despite reducing overall suspensions by 25 percent over four years, St. Paul Public Schools continues to kick African-American and American Indian students out of school at alarming rates relative to their peers.


In 2010-11, the district set an ambitious goal for racial equity in school discipline: that the student demographic with the most suspensions be excluded from school at no more than twice the rate of the racial group with the fewest suspensions -- Asian-Americans.


 

Maine School Officials Say Program Is Helping Raise Test Scores, Reduce Discipline Problems

Portland Press Herald

Noble High School officials said Tuesday they are seeing higher test scores and fewer disciplinary problems two years after launching a multimillion-dollar program aimed at ninth-graders that emphasizes making social and emotional connections with students.

 

Connecticut Moves to Restrict Suspension and Expulsion in the Early Grades

News America Ed Central

Next week, Connecticut’s legislation to restrict out-of-school suspensions and expulsions for pre-K through second grade students will go into effect. Governor Malloy signed the bill into law last week, after it passed unanimously in the state’s House and Senate. State Representative Andy Fleischmann explained in the Hartford Courant, how the bill received bipartisan support, saying, “A recent report from the state Department of Education showed a disturbingly large number of children getting suspensions. That was one of the things that motivated the General Assembly to act.” In fact, the number of children under the age of seven who were suspended from public schools increased by 22 percent between  2011 and 2014.

Bibb school discipline numbers take a dip

The Telegraph

Over the past five years, Bibb County schools have seen a sizable drop in discipline issues, from the number of suspensions to other infractions requiring punishment.

The number of in-school and out-of-school suspensions, as well as “other discipline actions” -- from after-school detention to sitting in a counselor’s office -- has decreased by more than 50 percent since 2010, according to data obtained from the school district through an Open Records Act request.

During the 2010-11 school year, for example, the school system had about 20,000 “discipline action counts” -- suspension or other types of punishment. That number had dropped to about 16,000 by 2013-14, and it now sits just below 9,000.

Ed Judie, the former assistant superintendent of student affairs, said he attributes some of the recent success to the start of the new Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports program. That’s a new discipline system that rolled out in Bibb’s middle and high schools this year.

Moving from punishing students who misbehave to understanding the causes

Arizona Daily Sun

For years, Franky Price terrified his teachers.

As a third-grader, he pantomimed killing other students by sliding his finger across his throat. In fourth grade, he swore at anyone who angered him. The worst moment came one month into fifth grade, after Franky wrote down his violent fantasies.

He never planned to act on any of them, but the behavior alarmed educators enough to get him suspended from elementary school, then expelled — placing him among the thousands of children statewide and across the country who are removed annually from elementary-school classrooms.

To Franky, the punishments barely registered. Raised in a family of drug users and dealers, he wandered with them from one dingy apartment to the next. Often, there was no bed to sleep on and nothing but plastic covering the windows.

Franky never told anyone. He knew it would mean foster care.

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