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Dept. of Ed Urges K-12s to Address ‘School-to-Prison Pipeline’

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced Thursday the launch of the Supportive School Discipline Initiative, a collaborative project between the Departments of Justice and Education that will address the “school-to-prison pipeline” and the disciplinary policies and practices that can push students out of school and into the justice system.

The initiative aims to support good discipline practices to foster safe and productive learning environments in every classroom.

“Ensuring that our educational system is a doorway to opportunity — and not a point of entry to our criminal justice system — is 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.”

The goals of the Supportive School Discipline Initiative are to: build consensus for action among federal, state and local education and justice stakeholders; collaborate on research and data collection that may be needed to inform this work, such as evaluations of alternative disciplinary policies and interventions; develop guidance to ensure that school discipline policies and practices comply with the nation’s civil rights laws and to promote positive disciplinary options to both keep kids in school and improve the climate for learning; and promote awareness and knowledge about evidence-based and promising policies and practices among state judicial and education leadership.

In order to implement the initiative, the two departments will coordinate with other organizations in the non-profit and philanthropic communities who are also working to help ensure students succeed by addressing inappropriate school discipline. These groups include the Council of State Governments and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.  

The Supportive School Discipline Initiative will build upon the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights’ work to increase and enhance the school discipline data available through the Civil Rights Data Collection and the Departments’ proactive efforts to ensure disciplinary policies support students and are administered in a non-discriminatory manner.  

Read the press release.

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