OAKLAND, CA - Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield (D-New Haven), a leader in the movement to reform Connecticut’s educational system, addressed more than 100 policymakers, advocates, parents and youths from across the United States this week at a symposium on school discipline.
The bipartisan group was established to develop consensus-based recommendations for local, state and federal officials who are seeking approaches to school discipline that keep kids in school and out of the juvenile justice system while providing a safe, positive learning environment.
“We launched this project to find ways to create safe, nurturing environments in our schools without relying on suspension and expulsion to manage student behaviors. In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, it is more important than ever to find ways to increase school safety and promote effective partnerships with law enforcement,” said Rep. Holder-Winfield, deputy majority leader in the Connecticut General Assembly.
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, Rep. Holder-Winfield said.
This week’s meeting is the second in a series being conducted for the Council of State Governments (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.
In October 2012, the multidisciplinary advisory groups first met for two days in Washington, D.C. Since then, the advisory groups have been working to identify key issues as well as 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.
“We are pleased about the substantial progress that this project has made since it began last October. 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 Tom Stickrath, Superintendent of Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and chair of the CSG Justice Center’s Board of Directors.