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October 10, 2012
Juvenile Justice, Law Enforcement, School and Health Professionals Join Other Experts and Stakeholders to Forge Consensus on School Disciplinary Policies Washington, DC—The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center convened this week a group of more than 100 policymakers, national experts, educators, law enforcement and court officials, health professionals, students, parents and others committed to improving school disciplinary policies. The diverse, bipartisan national group commenced work on consensus-based 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. Texas State Senator John Whitmire (D), who welcomed conference participants and is helping to lead the project, stated, “Nonpartisan groundbreaking research generated last year in my state was unequivocal: When a student is suspended or expelled, the likelihood he or she will become involved in the juvenile justice system, drop out, or repeat a grade increases dramatically. We have to address this problem, especially given how clearly the data demonstrate that this issue disproportionately affects children of color and students with special needs.” 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 and is supported by a public/private partnership that includes the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, NoVo Foundation, The California Endowment, and The Atlantic Philanthropies. 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 states and local governments have taken promising steps to address the problems related to school discipline, decision makers and front-line practitioners lack a comprehensive, multisystem approach to making school discipline more effective. The multidisciplinary advisory groups 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, where they will be joined by other experts and stakeholders, including youth and families, as the project progresses. The advisory groups 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. We know that 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 (R). More information about the project, photos from the convening, and the CSG Justice Center’s previous research on school discipline in Texas is available at http://justicecenter.csg.org/resources/juveniles. The CSG Justice Center is a national nonprofit organization that serves policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels from all branches of government. It provides practical, nonpartisan advice and consensus-driven strategies—informed by available evidence—to increase public safety and strengthen communities.