Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Changing the School Disciplinary Process for the Better

The process by which schools discipline their students has been under scrutiny nationwide for many years because of concerns about unfair procedures, racial bias, and the impact school suspension or expulsion can have on a student’s education and future.

A new report just released by the UCLA Civil Rights Project, however, indicates that California is leading a national effort to reform school disciplinary procedures for the better. In many California school districts, the report states, suspension rates have dramatically decreased and academic progress is notable.

For years researchers and school authorities have studied and noted the collateral consequences of a student’s suspension. For instance, a student who is suspended is more likely to drop out of school or become involved in the juvenile justice system. Students of color are also suspended at rates notably higher than white students.

The UCLA study specifically pointed to the Alameda and Berkeley school districts as models of success. In both counties, the report asserted, the schools have “successfully reduced suspension rates while improving test scores.”

What is the cause of the success in Alameda and Berkeley school districts? While it is hard to pinpoint the proximate cause of the turnaround in these areas, the report’s authors observed that both districts devoted more resources and staff to improving their disciplinary approach, reducing bullying, and implementing restorative justice initiatives.

School suspensions and expulsions can have short-term and long-term consequences for students of all ages. If your child is facing serious disciplinary proceedings in school, speak with a lawyer to ensure your child’s rights under the applicable rules and regulations are protected.

Katie Walsh is an attorney in Orange County, California. Her practice focuses on juvenile law, criminal law, and assisting victims of crimes.

Contact the Law Offices of Katie Walsh at 714-619-9355.