The project will be implemented in coordination with other organizations in the nonprofit and philanthropic communities that are also working to reduce the use of disciplinary practices such as suspension and expulsion, which place children at higher risk of poor academic achievement and dropout, illegal behavior, and entry into the justice system.
"Ensuring that our educational system is a doorway to opportunityand not a point of entry to our criminal justice systemis a critical, and achievable, goal," said Attorney General Holder. "By bringing together government, law enforcement, academic, and community leaders, I'm confident that we can make certain that school discipline policies are enforced fairly and do not become obstacles to future growth, progress, and achievement."
"Maintaining safe and supportive school climates is absolutely critical, and we are concerned about the rising rates and disparities in discipline in our nation's schools," said Secretary Duncan. "By teaming up with stakeholders on this issue and through the work of our offices throughout the department, we hope to promote strategies that will engage students in learning and keep them safe."
The goals of the Supportive School Discipline Initiative are to:
Attorney General Eric Holder
The announcement of the new initiative came 2 days after the Council of State Governments' (CSG's) release of findings of a statewide study on the impact of school disciplinary practices on students' academic success and juvenile justice involvement. Among other findings, the study determined that nearly six in ten public school students were suspended or expelled at least once between their seventh- and twelfth-grade school years. Students who were suspended or expelled, particularly those who were repeatedly disciplined, were more likely to be held back a grade or to drop out than were students not involved in the disciplinary system. The study also found that when a student was suspended or expelled, his or her likelihood of being involved in the juvenile justice system the subsequent year increased significantly.
"The use of excessive and inappropriate school disciplinary practices too often contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline," said Attorney General Holder. Citing the CSG study, Attorney General said the results were a "wake-up call."