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Padres & Jรณvenes Unidos (Parents & Youth United) With roots in the struggle for educational justice, Padres Unidos has evolved into a multi-issue organization led by people of color who work for educational excellence, racial justice for youth, immigrant rights and quality healthcare for all. Jรณvenes Unidos, the youth initiative of Padres Unidos, emerged as young people became active in reforming their schools, ending the school to jail track and organizing for immigrant student rights. Both Padres and Jรณvenes Unidos build power to challenge the root causes of discrimination, racism and inequity by exposing the economic, social, and institutional basis for injustice as well as developing effective strategies to realize meaningful change.

Advancement Project Advancement Project is a next generation, multi-racial civil rights organization. We tackle inequity with innovative strategies and strong community alliances. With a national office in Washington, DC and two offices in California, we combine law, communications, policy and technology to create workable solutions and achieve systemic change. We aim to inspire and strengthen movements that expand opportunity for all. Advancement Project: The Audacity to Make Change Happen.

Acknowledgements: We would like to recognize youth and parent members of Padres & Jรณvenes Unidos who dedicated time and energy to produce this report. From data gathering to providing critical feedback and revisions, their commitment to participatory research provided invaluable insights and grounding for this report. Their intrepid spirit in the fight for educational equality in our communities inspires us all. We would also like to thank the central office of Denver Public Schools, particularly Superintendent Boasberg and the Office of Student Services, as well as local school officials who over the years have demonstrated a commitment to change. Though there is much work to be done, their partnership with Padres & Jรณvenes Unidos to achieve greater fidelity to the Denver discipline policy gets us closer to ending the School to Jail Track for Denver Public School students.


From 2005 to 2008, Padres & Jóvenes Unidos and Advancement Project worked with Denver Public Schools (DPS) and other community members to craft a student disciplinary system that promotes high academic achievement, school safety, and healthier learning environments.1 In particular, this multi-stakeholder working group sought to eliminate disciplinary measures that needlessly exclude students from school and the overuse of the police and the juvenile justice system to handle minor disciplinary matters. The results of this effort, policies JK and JK-R (the “2008 discipline policy”), have been lauded as national models, and school districts from around the country have looked to these DPS policies as they attempt to address their own overreliance on harsh disciplinary practices.2 The 2008 discipline policy was a significant achievement for the entire Denver community, and has undoubtedly led to progress benefitting many students, their families, and the entire school system. In particular, there have been reductions in the use of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions districtwide. 3 And where restorative justice programs (which are highly effective alternatives to the “zerotolerance” approach) have been implemented, they have improved school culture, academic achievement, and school attendance, while helping to address the root causes of student behavior.4

ZERO TOLERANCE is a set of harsh, unforgiving policies and practices that emphasize the longterm removal of students from the classroom for violating school rules. Often, zero tolerance is applied to relatively minor misbehavior such as classroom disruption and schoolyard fighting. Increasingly, schools have also been relying on law enforcement and juvenile courts to address school-based issues resulting in the drastic criminalization of young people.

Nevertheless, the 2008 discipline policy still has not been fully implemented, leading to many students and families continuing to experience the same misguided and counterproductive disciplinary measures that the policy was supposed to eliminate. DPS’ out-of-school suspension rate is still among the highest in the state, 5 student referrals to law enforcement have actually increased since the policy was passed, 6 and because of the inconsistent implementation of the policy, Black and Latino students have not benefitted from it nearly as much as their White peers.7 In fact, school discipline within DPS is more inequitable across racial categories than it was before the 2008 discipline policy was passed.

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The continued allowance of disciplinary measures that contradict or violate the policy results in serious harm to children and youth around Denver. These young people continue to have their educational opportunities jeopardized by overlyharsh punishments that push them out of school and often criminalize them. For example:

Brian8, a junior in high school, tried to stop a fight between a group

of boys who were bullying his friends, who were smaller and younger. While there was

no physical altercation, Brian had raised his voice and cursed. When the Dean and the school resource officer arrived, Brian asked for the restorative justice option and to be able to tell his side of the story. However, the Dean ignored these requests, gave him an out-of-school suspension, and allowed the school resource officer to give him a police ticket for “unlawful acts around school.” Brian had to go to court, and his mother had to miss work to take him there. 9

In August 2011, an autistic

9-year old who was 4’2’’ and weighed 50 pounds had an outburst during the bus ride home. The bus driver turned the bus around and took him to his elementary school, where he was met with security officials who handcuffed him. His restraints were so tight that personnel from Children’s Hospital Colorado could not get a blood pressure reading. 10

students were suspended at a Denver K-8 school for celebrating the Cinco de Mayo holiday by running around the playground during recess with Mexican flags draped around their necks and for

using them as bandanas.11

On May 5th 2009, 17

Students like these continue to be taken off the track toward college and career and set on a path toward incarceration. Not only does this “School to Jail Track” stand in the way of building a more successful school system, it also represents a waste of resources. In the short term, relying on police and juvenile courts to handle youthful mistakes is like killing a fly with a sledgehammer, and it is very expensive for Denver taxpayers.12 In the long term, the community can ill afford to waste its human resources and diminish its tax base by using discipline practices that drive down graduation rates.13 Given ever-tightening public budgets, cost-effective education policies that promote success for our schools and our youth are more important than ever. We simply cannot afford these unconscionable, ineffective, and expensive discipline practices that push young people out of school and onto the fast-track to jail. DPS is to be applauded for its bold leadership and the progress it has made in addressing the School to Jail Track. In particular, many members of its staff devoted substantial time to making the 2008 discipline policy a reality and continue working toward making school discipline equitable and more effective. The District School Improvement Accountability Council also deserves special recognition for its role in improving school discipline. However, it is time to honor the commitment embodied in the 2008 policy– and that of the students and community members who led this effort – by finishing the job that we started. We must make our schools sanctuaries for learning, and put an end to the unnecessary use of harsh school discipline, police, and the juvenile justice system. Failure to do so will prevent Denver Public Schools from ever achieving the success that it, and the entire community, is working towards.

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This report examines DPS’ accomplishments thus far with respect to implementation of the 2008 discipline policy and, most importantly, articulates what remains to be done in order to make DPS the district its students deserve. The information in this report comes from publicly available data, a student-developed and implemented survey with more than 700 responses collected during the 2010-11 school year, and the stories and voices of youth from across the city.14 It was initiated, informed, and edited by youth who care deeply about the future of their education and who feel that District employees must take more responsibility to fully implement the 2008 discipline policy. Based on the evidence gathered, we have provided DPS with its own “report card” on the implementation effort15:

Out-of-school Suspension The districtwide out-of-school suspension rate has declined since the 2007-08 school year; however, DPS continues to have one of the higher rates in the state. Many schools across the District continue to have very high suspension rates, meaning many students – and especially Black and Latino students – are not benefitting from this progress.

Expulsion

GRADE

B

B-

The number of expulsions in the District actually rose following passage of the 2008 discipline policy, peaking during the 2009-10 school year. While expulsions have since been reduced, DPS has yet to demonstrate a consistent reduction in expulsions over time.

Referrals to Law Enforcement The number of referrals to law enforcement has increased since the 2008 policy was passed, and students are continuing to receive police tickets for minor behaviors that are best addressed within schools. In short, Denver Public Schools has not done enough to keep its students in school and out of the juvenile justice system.

Racial Disparities One of the focal points of the process to craft the 2008 discipline policy was the need to address the fact that Black and Latino students were being suspended, expelled, and referred to law enforcement at much higher rates than their White peers. However, since the policy was passed, racial disparities have actually gotten worse. This has been perhaps the most significant failure of the District over the last three years.

Restorative Justice Where restorative justice has been implemented, it is working, helping to transform school culture and improve academic achievement. However, many schools lack restorative justice programs (which should not require additional school staff or resources), and too few students, teachers, and parents are aware of restorative justice as a potential disciplinary intervention.

Training DPS has initiated some training efforts to make teachers, administrators, and support staff within the District aware of the policy, but they are non-mandatory and inadequate. Too many staff members still do not understand the 2008 discipline policy and what it requires.

Data Collection While efforts to improve data collection are underway, DPS still does not have the data systems it needs to effectively evaluate the implementation of the 2008 discipline policy. In particular, DPS lacks a system to evaluate whether individual schools are complying with discipline matrix and ladder contained in the 2008 discipline policy.

D

F

B-

C-

C

C-

Cumulative Grade Although DPS has made some significant steps toward implementation of the 2008 discipline policy, there are still far too many serious shortcomings. Students of color continue to bear the brunt of harsh disciplinary policies, and not enough has been done to implement the policy consistently and effectively. The community expects DPS to achieve full implementation of the 2008 discipline policy, and Padres & Jóvenes Unidos looks forward to continued partnership with DPS in service of that goal. 4 4

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The Critical Role of Youth For the last decade, the organized youth of Jóvenes Unidos have been fighting to end the School to Jail Track in Denver Public Schools. It was these students, joined by parents and community allies, that highlighted harsh school discipline as a major barrier to educational success within DPS and that issued the clarion call for reform of the discipline code in 2005. And it was youth advocacy that led to changes in disciplinary practices even before the new code was adopted. As a result, between 2005 and 2008, the rates of suspensions, expulsions, and referrals to law enforcement dropped substantially, and racial disparities became less severe. Since 2008, Jóvenes Unidos have continued to work to improve their schools and their communities by making the new policy a lived reality for youth across Denver. When permitted, they have held “Know Your Rights” assemblies to increase awareness about the policy, have analyzed and assessed school discipline data, have engaged with DPS officials to demand greater implementation of the policies, and have educated and inspired their peers to push for more accountability from DPS. They have taken this message to a wider audience, creatively utilizing mediums of communication such as radio, television, and social media. The youth of Jóvenes Unidos have taken the initiative to recruit and train their peers and keep up the pressure for change. They will continue to hold the district accountable – appreciating the progress made, but not content until all young people get the full and equal opportunity to a high-quality education that they deserve. BOOKS NOT NOT BARS BARS •• DEC DEC 2011 2011 BOOKS

Jóvenes members have educated over 245,000 community members in and outside of Denver on the 2008 discipline policy and the need to End the School to Jail Track in DPS. 5 5


How the 2008 discipline policy compares to DPS discipline data and the student experience This section compares the language of the 2008 policy to publicly available DPS school discipline data and the lived experience of youth across the city. It assesses the extent to which DPS has maintained fidelity to the policy.

OUT-OF-SCHOOL SUSPENSIONS GRADE: B

“We will use developmentally appropriate disciplinary techniques that emphasize restorative rather than punitive approaches. We will also aim to keep students in class and learning, limiting the time spent outside of class for disciplinary reasons.”

Policy: The District will make every reasonable effort to correct student misbehavior through school-based resources at the lowest possible level, and to support students in learning the skills necessary to enhance a positive school environment and avoid negative behavior.

DPS vision as laid out in the 2010 Denver Plan16

Policy JK, Section IV(D)

Practice: Suspensions: The district-wide out-of-school suspension rate has steadily decreased in the last three years.17 In 2007-08, there were nearly 14 suspensions for every 100 students in the district.18 Last year, there were roughly 11 suspensions for every 100 students, a decline of nearly 20%.19

Out-of-School Suspension Rates Year

OSS Rate for DPS

2007 - 08 2008 - 09 2009 - 10 2010 - 11

13.8 for every 100 students 12.5 for every 100 students 12.2 for every 100 students 11.2 for every 100 students

Source: Denver Public Schools

However, while many schools have reduced their use of out-of-school suspensions – some quite significantly – the progress has been wildly uneven. In fact, many schools have seen dramatic increases in the use of out-of-school suspensions in the last few years. For example, the suspension rates for Montbello High School and Manual High School have increased by over 70% in the last few years.20 And many schools throughout the District continue to have unacceptably high out-of-school suspension rates.

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Among middle schools, Kepner, Grant, Smiley, Lake, Lake International, Merrill, and Henry all had more than 25 out-of-school suspensions for every 100 students during the 2010-11 school year.21

And the suspension rate at Manual High School is almost eight times higher than the suspension rate at East High School.22

As a result, even though the new discipline policy has led to progress in this area, DPS still had the sixth highest suspension rate amongst Colorado’s 20 largest school districts during the 2010-11 school year.23 And over 50% of the 700 students surveyed at Montbello, North, and Lincoln High Schools found that suspensions are still being given for minor misbehavior.24

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DOUGLAS COUNTY RE 1

BOULDER VALLEY RE 2

COLORADO SPRINGS 11

ACADEMY 20

ST VRAIN VALLEY RE 1J

LITTLETON 6

THOMPSON R-2J

Source: Colorado Dept of Education

POUDRE R-1

FALCON 49

MESA COUNTY VALLEY 51

JEFFERSON COUNTY R-1

PUEBLO CITY 60

ADAMS 12 FIVE STAR

CHERRY CREEK 5

DENVER COUNTY 1

BRIGHTON 27J

ADAMS-ARAPAHOE 28J

HARRISON 2

GREELEY 6

20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0

WESTMINSTER 50

2010-11 Out-of-School Suspension Rates for Colorado’s 20 Largest School Districts

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District-wide # of Explusions

EXPULSIONS GRADE: B-

Source: Denver Public Schools

Policy: Effective school discipline policies promote disciplinary responses that refrain from interrupting a student’s education to the extent possible. Schools should minimize the use of out-ofschool suspensions, recommendations for expulsion, and referrals to law enforcement, to the extent practicable…

200 180 160 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0

185 169 123

105

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

Policy JK-R, Section 2-1

Practice: Expulsions: In 2007, the year before implementation of the new discipline policy, there were 123 expulsions in DPS.25 After implementation of the policy, that number actually increased, peaking at 185 in 2009-10.26 To its credit, DPS did substantially reduce the number of expulsions in 2010-11 to 105, but that is still only slightly below where it was before the 2008 discipline policy was passed. 27

REFERRALS TO LAW ENFORCEMENT GRADE: D Policy: It is a goal of the Denver Public Schools and the Board of Education that the juvenile and criminal justice systems be utilized less frequently to address school-based misconduct. Policy JK, Section IV(H)

Practice: Referrals to Law Enforcement: Districtwide, there were 678 referrals to law enforcement during the 2010-2011 school year, which is actually 32% more than there were before the new discipline policy was implemented.28 To be fair, DPS had substantially reduced the number of referrals prior to 2008. Nevertheless, the data suggests that DPS is continuing to overuse the police and juvenile court systems. For example, during the 2010-2011 school year, DPS had the 8th highest rate of referral to law enforcement among Colorado’s 20 largest school districts, despite the fact that the 2008 discipline code explicitly calls for alternatives to the use of law enforcement.29

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Source: Colorado Dept of Education

COLORADO SPRINGS 11

GREELEY 6

PUEBLO CITY 60

ACADEMY 20

WESTMINSTER 50

HARRISON 2

FALCON 49

BOULDER VALLEY RE 2

DOUGLAS COUNTY RE 1

THOMPSON R-2J

ST VRAIN VALLEY RE 1J

POUDRE R-1

DENVER COUNTY 1

0

CHERRY CREEK 5

0.5

BRIGHTON 27J

1

LITTLETON 6

1.5

ADAMS-ARAPAHOE 28J

2

JEFFERSON CO. R-1

2.5

MESA CO. VALLEY 51

3 ADAMS 12 FIVE STAR

NUMBER OF REFERRALS TO LAW ENFORCEMENT PER 100 STUDENTS

2010-11 Rate of Referral to Law Enforcement for Colorado’s 20 Largest School Districts

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RACIAL DISPARITIES GRADE: F

2010-11 Out-of-School Suspension Rates by Race 0 5 10 15 20 25

Policy: Efforts shall be made to eliminate any racial disparities in school discipline. Staff members are specifically charged with monitoring the impact of their actions on students from racial and ethnic groups or other protected classes that have historically been over-represented among those students who are suspended, expelled, or referred to law enforcement. Policy JK-R, Section 1-4

7

2007

13.1 15.6 24.7 6.3

2008

11.9 16.4 24.1 5.4

2009

11.7 16.1

Practice: Racial Disparities30: Data indicates that Black, Latino, and Native American students continue to bear the overwhelming brunt of harsh discipline within DPS. For example, for every 100 White students in 2010-11, there were 4.4 out-of-school suspensions. But for every 100 Black students, there were 23.7 suspensions, over five times as many. And for every 100 Latino students, there were 10.8 suspensions, two-and-a-half times as many.31

25 2010

4.4 10.8 17 23.7

WHITE

LATINO

NATIVE AMER.

BLACK

Source: Denver Public Schools

Perhaps even more troubling is that these racial disparities have actually worsened over time and since passage of the 2008 discipline policy. In other words, while suspension rates for White students have dropped dramatically over the last few years, the drop in rates for Black and Latino students have been much more modest. The out-of-school suspension rate for Native American students has actually increased since passage of the policy. Thus, the data suggests that school discipline practices in DPS are more inequitable than they were before passage of the 2008 discipline policy.

DPS Out-of-School Suspension Rate by Race Source: Denver Public Schools

Year White Black Native American Latino 2007 2008 2009 2010

7.0 6.3 5.4 4.4

24.7 24.1 25.0 23.7

Similarly, racial disparities persist in the realm of expulsions. During the 2010-11 school year, Black students were nearly six times more likely to be expelled than White students, and Latino students were nearly twice as likely to be expelled as White students.32 These racial disparities have a huge impact on how students perceive school discipline. For example, in a survey of 700 students at North, Lincoln, and Montbello High Schools, more than half responded that students are disciplined differently on the basis of race.33 In addition, close to 40% of students surveyed do not believe that all students are treated with equal respect.34 BOOKS NOT BARS • DEC 2011

15.6 16.4 16.1 17.0

13.1 11.9 11.7 10.8

During the 2010-11 school year, Black students were nearly six times more likely to be expelled than White students, and Latino students were nearly twice as likely to be expelled as White students.32 9


RESTORATIVE JUSTICE GRADE: BPolicy: Alternatives such as restorative or therapeutic interventions should be utilized to help students who are at risk of suspension or expulsion before such disciplinary measures become necessary. Policy JK-R, Section 5-1

Practice: Restorative Justice: Where it has been implemented, restorative justice has been highly successful in improving student connection to school and academic outcomes. An evaluation of restorative justice programs in DPS assessed a sample of 293 students who had participated in at least three restorative interventions over the course of the 2009-10 school year. 35

“The new policy uses RJ and other interventions, rather than mere exclusionary punishment, thus supporting educators to do their job and educate kids for our democracy, rather than pushing them out into more unhealthy activities.” Ben Cairns RJ Coordinator

It found that for a significant proportion of the students, failing grades, office referrals, suspensions, and expulsions decreased.36 It also found increases in school attendance and student improvement in the areas of externalizing behavior and self-control.37 Where used for preventive purposes, restorative justice was shown to result in student improvement in the areas of adaptability and ability to cope with stress.8 The Jóvenes Unidos survey results also show that where restorative justice has become an integral part of the school culture, it makes for a healthier school environment. For example, students at North High School reported that restorative justice was more effective than suspensions and that it improved their relationships with teachers and administrators. 39 Survey results also found that 73% of the students at North High School who completed the survey felt there were fewer fights in school.40 Despite these successes, many schools do not offer restorative justice; in fact, 45% of students who responded to the survey said they had not heard of a restorative justice program in their school.41 DPS simply must do more to ensure that robust restorative justice programs exist throughout the District.

Over 700 surveys were collected by youth to evaluate the progress and shortfalls of the discipline policy.

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TRAINING GRADE: CPolicy: Staff training will be provided as needed to ensure that the disciplinary program in each school is effective and that relevant policies and procedures are equitably applied. Policy JK-R, Section 1-2

Practice: Training: DPS has not sufficiently committed to training teachers, principals, and administrators on the 2008 policy and ensuring that it is implemented faithfully. As an initial matter, trainings have been largely voluntary, thereby resulting in haphazard and inconsistent participation by school employees. In addition, based on a review of a DPS training presentation on the discipline policy, the content of the training received by teachers and school officials has been severely lacking. 42 DPS staff has not been trained on the consequences of suspensions, expulsions, and referrals to law enforcement, nor on the importance of limiting them. 43 They have also not been provided enough training on classroom management skills and alternatives to harsh disciplinary measures.44 And they have not been sufficiently educated on the mechanics of the discipline policy and what it requires. 45 As a result of these failings, implementation of the 2008 discipline policy has been highly inconsistent. This is evident not only in the wide variability of disciplinary data at the school-level but also in the student survey data, where over 60% of students said they did not think that teachers and staff follow the discipline policy.46

DATA COLLECTION GRADE: C Policy: Both individual schools and the District will evaluate and monitor the effectiveness of the school discipline plan using school disciplinary data disaggregated by race, ethnicity, and sex of student. Policy JK-R, Section 7-1.

Practice: Data Collection: While there has been some progress recently, the unfortunate reality is that three years after passage of the policy, DPS has still not lived up to its commitment to collect and analyze the data it needs to effectively evaluate its progress. It still does not have the ability to track suspensions, expulsions, and referrals to law enforcement according to the system laid out by the 2008 discipline policy, and it has no way of knowing whether schools are actually following the policy when they discipline students. Also, despite the 2008 discipline policy’s clear goal of reducing student contact with the criminal justice system, DPS still has no data on how many of the student referrals to law enforcement lead to tickets or arrests. Moreover, neither DPS nor Denver Police Department (DPD) has a clear set of data indicating how many students were ticketed and arrested in Denver schools last year, and the type of charges against them.

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ACTION PLATFORM:

A Community Call for DPS Action

Padres & Jóvenes Unidos is committed to making DPS a place where every student has the opportunity to succeed academically, is treated fairly and with dignity, and is able to attend a school that is a safe, welcoming place to learn. Where the 2008 discipline policy is being implemented, the results are resoundingly positive: suspensions are down; academic achievement is up; school cultures are improving; there is increased trust between adults and students; and restorative justice is addressing misbehavior while giving young people the vital opportunity to learn from their mistakes. However, piecemeal progress is not enough in a district where the failed “get-tough” attitude and racial injustice remain embedded in the school discipline system. It is not enough when police are still giving out tickets for minor offenses – often disregarding the 2008 discipline policy altogether. If the District is to remain a national leader in the realm of school discipline reform and academic improvement, it must fully implement the 2008 discipline policy by taking the following steps:

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REDUCE POLICE TICKETS AND ARRESTS

IMPLEMENT RESTORATIVE JUSTICE FOR ALL

Disciplinary matters should only be handled by, or referred to, law enforcement personnel when there is a serious safety concern. And students should not be ticketed by police or arrested unless there has been a felony offense or some other offense that poses a serious, ongoing threat to school safety. Padres & Jóvenes Unidos calls on DPS to eliminate the use of police tickets and arrests for all other behavior by the 2012-13 school year, and be able to track the results of that effort through data collection and reporting.

DPS must recommit to restorative justice in all high schools and middle schools. By the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, DPS should have a plan in place that details how each high school and middle school will implement restorative justice alternatives to harsh discipline over the next five years. Such a plan need not require additional school staff or resources, but rather equip current school staff with the skills to implement restorative justice in their respective schools.

REWRITE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING

INSTITUTE THOROUGH AND EFFECTIVE TRAINING

Padres & Jóvenes Unidos also calls for the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between DPS and Denver Police Department to be rewritten with the input of the community. The new MOU should: limit the use of tickets and arrests to felony offenses or misdemeanors that pose a serious, ongoing threat to school safety; provide guidelines for searches conducted in schools; strengthen parent and student due process rights; limit the use of arrest and physical restraints; provide for data collection and training; and implement accountability measures, including a complaint and redress process for violations of the MOU.

Beginning in the 2012-13 school year, DPS must ensure that all teachers and administrators are trained yearly on the 2008 discipline policy. The training should include information on the adverse consequences of exclusion from school, effective classroom management techniques, adolescent development and relationship-building, conflict resolution, restorative justice, other disciplinary alternatives, and student engagement through challenging and culturally relevant curricula. Before the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, DPS must conduct a survey to determine the efficacy of the trainings that have been conducted thus far and must create a plan for improving them during the 2012-13 school year.

END RACIAL DISPARITIES

CREATE ACCOUNTABILITY

DPS must create and make public a plan to address the ongoing problem of racial disparities in school discipline. Such a plan should include a system for tracking the extent to which the disciplinary consequences for students of color are different than their peers for the same conduct. We call for racial disparities to be cut in half across all discipline categories by the end of 2012-13, and a continued trend of reduction and ultimate elimination in the ensuing years.

Before commencement of the 2012-13 school year, we demand that DPS create an accountability plan for the 2008 discipline policy. That plan should have at least three components:

IMPROVE DATA REPORTING DPS must issue detailed data reports every semester that accurately and faithfully monitor the implementation of the 2008 discipline policy. Those reports should include clear data collection and analysis, and all source data should be made publicly available. The first of these reports should be issued after the first semester of the 2012-13 school year.

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1. Description of who in the administration is responsible for ensuring that the various elements of implementation – training, data collection, monitoring – are accounted for and achieved. 2. A system for evaluating individual schools’ adherence to the 2008 discipline policy, tracking unacceptably high levels of exclusionary discipline and racial disparities, and taking appropriate corrective action where necessary. 3. A system for receiving and responding to complaints of alleged violations of the 2008 discipline policy.

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1 See, e.g., Mitchell, N. (2008, August). Board approves new DPS discipline policy. Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved on November 27, 2011, from http://m. rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/aug/22/boardapproves-new-dps-discipline-policy/. 2 Disciplinary policies JK and JK-R can be accessed at http://communications.dpsk12.org/assets/js/tiny_mce/ plugins/filemanager/files/discipline/Policy_JK_English_ FINAL2.pdf and http://godsman.wikispaces.dpsk12. org/file/view/STUDENT+CONDUCT+AND+DISCIPL INE+PROCEDURES.pdf, respectively. See, e.g., St. George, D. (June 1, 2011). More schools rethinking zero-tolerance discipline stand. Washington Post. Retrieved November 27, 2011, from http://www. washingtonpost.com/local/education/more-schoolsare-rethinking-zero-tolerance/2011/05/26/AGSIKmGH_ story.html. 3 See infra notes 17 and 27 and accompanying text. 4 See infra notes 36-38 and accompanying text. 5 See infra note 23 and accompanying text. 6 See infra note 28 and accompanying text. 7 See infra notes 31 and 32 and accompanying text. 8 The names of all students have been changed, to protect their identity. 9 Student Testimonial Authored by Padres & Jóvenes Unidos Member. [on file with authors]. 10 Johnson, B. (August 17, 2011). Parents concerned by handcuffing of autistic boy. Denver Post. Retrieved November 27, 2011, from http://www.denverpost.com/ billjohnson/ci_18696227. 11 Student Testimonial Authored by Padres & Jóvenes Unidos Member. [on file with authors]. 12 Advancement Project. (2010, January). Test, punish, and push out: How “zero tolerance” and high stakes testing policies funnel youth into the School-to-Prison Pipeline, 24. Retrieved November 27, 2011, from http://www.advancementproject.org/sites/default/files/ publications/rev_fin.pdf.

14

13 The relationship between harsh discipline practices and dropout rates is well documented and studies show that students who dropout earn on average over $209,000 less than a high school graduate, over a lifetime, reducing a tax base in any community. See Levin, H., Belfield, C., Muennig, P., & Rouse, C. (2007). The costs and benefits of an excellent education for all of America’s children. New York, NY: The Center for Cost-Benefit Studies of Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. 14 The data cited in this report has either been attained directly from Denver Public Schools personnel or accessed through the Denver Public Schools and Colorado Department of Education websites. Padres & Jóvenes Unidos. Student Survey and Survey Results (2010/2011). [on file with authors]. 15 A more detailed and data-based discussion of each component of the “report card” follows in this report. 16 Denver Public Schools. (March 18, 2010). 2010 Denver Plan. Retrieved on November 29, 2011 from http://2010denverplan.dpsk12.org/pdf/ Final2010Denver%20Plan.pdf. 17 In-school suspension rates have increased nearly 30% since 2007 indicating a concerted effort to employ disciplinary measures that keep students within the school environment. However, students must receive the resources they need during in-school suspension to avoid falling behind. Therefore, as stated in the 2008 discipline policy, attention must be paid to the educational disruption caused by the over-use of inschool suspensions and alternatives to suspension must be considered to the extent possible. 18 Documents Obtained from Denver Public Schools. [on file with authors]. 19 Id. 20 Id. 21 Id. 22 Id.

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23 Colorado Department of Education, 2010-2011 Safety and Discipline Indicators. Retrieved on November 29, 2011 from http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdereval/ rv2011sdiincidents.htm.

35 Baker, M. (2010). DPS Restorative Justice Project: Year Four. [on file with authors].

24 Padres & Jóvenes Unidos. Student Survey and Survey Results (2010/2011). [on file with authors].

37 Id.

25 Documents Obtained from Denver Public Schools. [on file with authors].

39 Padres & Jóvenes Unidos. Student Survey and Survey Results (2010/2011). [on file with authors].

26 Id.

40 Id.

27 Id.

41 Id.

28 Id.

42 The PowerPoint training, reviewed by Padres & Jóvenes Unidos staff during the summer of 2010, is on file with the authors.

29 Colorado Department of Education, 2010-2011 Safety and Discipline Indicators. Retrieved on November 29, 2011 from http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdereval/ rv2011sdiincidents.htm. It bears restating that Denver Police Department (DPD) does not systematically report the outcome of the referrals to DPD, complicating an analysis of the full impact of referrals to law enforcement by educators and administrators. Furthermore, a revisit of the Memorandum of Understanding between DPS and DPS is overdue and must be appropriately aligned with the 2008 discipline policy.

36 Id.

38 Id.

43 Id. 44 Id. 45 Id. 46 Padres & Jóvenes Unidos. Student Survey and Survey Results (2010/2011). [on file with authors].

30 Beginning in the 2010-11 school year, DPS added two new race categories to its discipline data collection: “Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander” and a category for students who are “Two or More” races. Although these new categories make precise comparisons to past years more difficult, the data continue to indicate persistent racial disparities in school discipline. 31 Documents Obtained from Denver Public Schools. [on file with authors]. 32 Id. 33 Padres & Jóvenes Unidos. Student Survey and Survey Results (2010/2011). [on file with authors]. 34 Id.

BOOKS NOT BARS • DEC 2011

15


Books Not Bars: Students for Safe & Fair Schools  

A Community Analysis of the Implementation of the 2008 Denver School Discipline Policy