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

Topic: State Board of Education

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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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