On June 17, 2016 a small working group of the School Discipline Coalition submitted feedback to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) on the accountability and assistance system which is being developed to help evaluate and implement the Chapter 222 School Discipline law. One of the working group’s recommendations urges the Department to adopt a School Climate and Safety Indicator as a measure of school quality and student success, allowable under the new federal education law (ESSA). DESE will spend the summer developing options and recommendations based on feedback.
Alice Wolf, one of the lead sponsors of the Chapter 222 law when it was passed in 2012, is a member of the Working Group, and is now a Senior Advisor at MAC. On June 29th, Wolf and other members of the School Discipline Coalition met with DESE officials to discuss the Department’s plans address the overuse and disparate use of suspensions and expulsions. The school discipline law and regulations that took effect in 2014 required DESE to identify schools that suspend or expel a significant percentage of students for more than 10 cumulative days in a school year. The law also requires the identification of schools and districts where there are significant disparities in suspension and expulsion rates among different racial and ethnic groups or among students with and without disabilities.
The School Discipline Coalition is moderated by MAC, is composed of public interest attorneys and others advocating with state and local education policymakers and administrators to help implement the new school discipline law and regulations in an effort to keep more children in school and to limit reliance on exclusionary discipline, especially for minor acts of misconduct. For more information on the law, go HERE.