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U.S. Departments of Education and Justice Release School Discipline Guidance Package to boost School Conditions and enhance School Disciplinary Practices

The U.S. Department of Justice and Education released a school discipline guidance package to guide states, districts, and schools improve school climate and reinforce discipline policies and practices. The U.S. Department of Education, in association with the U.S. Department of Justice will help in the initiative addressing overuse of harsh and restrictive school disciplinary policies and practices and supports the advancement of safe and effective education environments and training. Efforts are coordinated to keep children and teens in school, engaged in learning, out of streets and trouble.  The guidance package provides resources for creating safe, supportive, and inclusive school climates and a compendium of federal laws and regulations regarding school discipline.

"Effective teaching and learning cannot take place unless students feel safe at school, "U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “Positive discipline policies can help create safer learning environments without relying heavily on suspensions and expulsions. Schools also must understand their civil rights obligations and avoid unfair disciplinary practices. We need to keep students in class where they can learn. These resources are a step in the right direction.”

The resource package consists of four components:

·         The Dear Colleague  a guidance letter on civil rights and discipline, prepared in association with DOJ, defines how schools can meet legal obligations under federal law to govern student discipline without discriminating against students on the basis of race, color or national origin;

·         The Guiding Principles document originates from emerging research and best practices to describe three key principles and related action steps that can help model state and local efforts to enhance school climate and school discipline;

·         The Directory of Federal School Climate and Discipline Resources indicates the extensive federal technical assistance and other resources relevant to school discipline and climate available to schools and districts;

·         The Compendium of School Discipline Laws and Regulations is an online directory of the laws and regulations pertinent to school discipline in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, compares laws across states and jurisdictions.

While incidents of school violence increase, too many schools are struggling to create positive, safe environments. The guidance package provides resources for creating such climates, which are essential for boosting student academic success and closing achievement gaps.
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