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Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: League of Education Voters

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April 10, 2014 at 5:00 AM

New rules for school discipline: Time for the public to weigh in

Illustration by Paul Tong / Op Art

Illustration by Paul Tong / Op Art

State lawmakers passed a new law last year that, for the first time, puts a one-year limit on how long students can be suspended or expelled from school, with exceptions for those who pose a risk to public safety.

The new law also requires school districts to work with students and their parents on a plan to get students back in school.

Some of the provisions are pretty clear-cut, though many details have yet to be finalized — including just what those reentry plans should look like and what role students and parents might have in developing them.

The state’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has come up with its proposals, and is now soliciting the public’s views. Comments and recommendations can be submitted by mail, email or fax — see details below. A public hearing is scheduled for May 5, from 10 a.m. to noon at OSPI’s offices, 234 8th Ave. in Olympia.

Some of the groups that lobbied for the law are expected to lobby for changes they’d like to see. The League of Education Voters, for example, would like districts to be required to meet with students and their parents as part of drawing up a plan to return to school. OSPI’s proposed rules say districts should do that, but not that they must.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: discipline, expulsions, League of Education Voters

January 8, 2014 at 5:00 AM

School discipline: State may track it better but ponders how and why

The state Board of Education today will discuss whether discipline should be monitored as a measure of public school health and/or accountability.

That conversation is yet another sign that school discipline policies — not just in Seattle or even Washington state — are facing increasing scrutiny.

Nationally, the Obama Administration today urged schools to seek alternatives to suspensions and expulsions, especially for nonviolent offenses. Those recommendations were part of a lengthy set of new guidelines for school districts on how to ensure their discipline policies don’t discriminate against students on the basis of race, color or national origin.

In a statement, Deborah J. Vagins, senior legislative counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union, called the new guidelines “groundbreaking.”

This guidance makes it crystal clear for schools what their obligations are under our civil rights laws and provides examples of best practices so that they can easily implement positive alternative practices. This is a victory for all who care about creating environments where students can thrive.”

Closer to home, Chris Korsmo of the League of Education Voters, said:

These recommendations come at a critical time for our state and students. Students can’t learn if they aren’t in the classroom. If we are serious about closing our state’s opportunity and achievement gaps, we need to find ways to keep kids in school and learning.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: discipline, League of Education Voters, State Board of Education

November 19, 2013 at 1:30 PM

Guest: Baltimore provides model for school-discipline reform

Andaiye Qaasim

Andaiye Qaasim

Students can’t learn if they aren’t in school. Yet, in Seattle, one in four black middle-school students is suspended each year. In March, racial disparities in student suspension and expulsion rates prompted the U.S. Department of Education to launch a civil rights investigation into Seattle Public Schools.

The League of Education Voters recently traveled with community and education leaders to Baltimore to learn about best practices in discipline. Since 2008, Baltimore City Public Schools decreased suspensions from one in five students per year to one in eight; a similar drop occurred in expulsions.

Baltimore school administrators and education advocates were clear: the decrease was due to the importance of culture and policy; relationships and practice.

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Comments | More in Guest opinion | Topics: discipline, guest opinion, League of Education Voters