Press ReleasesJune 15, 2010
Human Rights Report Reveals Non-Compliance in Schools
CADRE: Maisie Chin, 323-823-7545
Public Counsel: Laura Faer, 213-385-2977 x113
MHAS: Ruth Cusick, 323-640-3187
Los Angeles, CA - As part of the U.S. Human Rights Fund‟s national convening being held in Los Angeles today,
Community Asset Development Re-defining Education (CADRE), Public Counsel Law Center, and Mental Health
Advocacy Services, Inc. (MHAS) released the primary findings from their report, Redefining Dignity in Our Schools: A
Shadow Report on School-Wide Positive Behavior Support Implementation in South Los Angeles, 2007-2010.
The report, which is culmination of two years of comprehensive monitoring by South LA parents, parent organizers,
attorneys, and researchers, analyzes the extent of implementation of Los Angeles Unified School District's mandatory
School-Wide Positive Behavior Support Discipline Policy ("SWPBS Policy") in Local District 7 (LD 7), a district that
covers much of South Los Angeles. The report's release comes at a time when school exclusionary discipline rates are
the highest in the nation's history, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently remarked that disturbing
nationwide gaps in the rates of suspension and expulsion between African Americans and their white
counterparts "are hard to explain away by the usual suspects."i
"Full implementation of the SWPBS Policy is critical because of its ability to reduce exclusionary discipline practices and
create a positive school culture," said Ruth Cusick, staff attorney at MHAS.
Research has shown that punitive discipline policies are ineffective, and that students of color are disproportionately
targeted for and often receive more severe and punitive consequences for less severe offenses. SWPBS has been
nationally recognized as an effective means of proactively structuring school discipline.ii Nationwide schools fully
implementing SWPBS have seen up to a 60% reduction in disciplinary problems and suspensions; secondary
benefits include improved academic achievement, reduced dropout rates, higher teacher retention, and a more positive
- Unfortunately, the report finds primarily bad news, with some real glimmers of hope, for South Los Angeles children:
- Extremely low levels of SWPBS Policy implementation in South Los Angeles's Local District 7. But, exclusionary discipline rates showed decreases across the board during the years that SWPBS was being implemented, suggesting that if SWPBS is fully implemented it could transform schools across South Los Angeles.
- Parents are still largely excluded from the implementation process, even though research makes clear that schools are most successful when parents are partners in SWPBS implementation.
- African American students continue to be disproportionately subjected to exclusionary discipline, making up 47% of suspensions, while only comprising 18.9% of the student population. In 2008-09, they were over three times more likely to be suspended as compared to other ethnic groups, with the exception of Pacific Islanders.
"The failure to fully implement the SWPS Policy in South Los Angeles is even more disturbing because state, federal, and human rights mandates prohibit discrimination in school practices," said Laura Faer, Directing Attorney of Public Counsel's Children's Rights Project. "There is no excuse not to hold all LAUSD schools accountable to immediate implementation of SWPBS when it has been shown to reduce these practices while also creating a safer school campus."
The report includes a set of recommendations for LAUSD from CADRE parents and their allies at Public Counsel and MHAS, including setting measurable outcomes and benchmarks for implementing the SWPBS Policy and reducing discipline rates and disproportionate discipline, regularly collecting, publicizing, and analyzing school discipline data, and creating parent led teams at every school to help monitor SWPBS implementation and improve school safety.
"Our children continue to be harmed by LAUSD‟s inaction. We call upon the Board of Education, Superintendent Cortines, school principals and administrators, and teachers and staff to take immediate steps to implement the recommendations in this report and enforce the SWPBS policy," said Eddie Madison, parent leader for CADRE. "The LAUSD Board must hold a special session to review and adopt our recommendations and require the District to create a plan of action for expedited implementation."
The report also shines a spotlight on two model schools in South Los Angeles - Loren Miller Elementary and Edison Middle -- which have effectively implemented SWPBS without additional funding.
"These schools are committed to trying to keep all children in class and learning, to providing positive interventions for children who are struggling with behavior issues, and to involving parents in the process from the very beginning," said Leticia Arevalo, CADRE leader and parent of a student at Edison Middle. "Other schools in South Los Angeles must follow their lead."
In 2006, CADRE parents, organizers, and their allies nationwide led a successful campaign to call attention to the "pushout" crisis in South Los Angeles. The campaign culminated in a unanimous Board of Education vote which made LAUSD one of the first district's in the nation to adopt "school-wide positive behavior support" as the discipline model for every school in the district. At the end of 2005-2006, just prior to its adoption of SWPBS, LAUSD as a whole had recorded 72,868 suspensions and a dropout rate around 50% for African American and Latino students. In Redefining Dignity in Our Schools, the report‟s authors analyze, through written records obtained through multiple California Public Record's Act requests, individual school case studies, discipline data, and extensive parent and student surveys, the extent to which LAUSD has implemented the SWPBS Policy in a local district that covers much of South Los Angeles.
i U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, "Crossing the Next Bridge: Secretary Arne Duncan‟s Remarks on the 45th Anniversary of „Bloody Sunday‟ at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, Alabama," given March 8, 2010. In 2006, African American students made up 17.1% of the overall student population but 37.4% of students suspended out-of-school. U.S. Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, 2006 Civil Rights Data Collection. Also, according to OCR Data, African-American students were nearly three times as likely to be suspended and 3.5 times as likely to be expelled as their white peers. U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, 2006 Data Collection.
ii LINDA M. BAMBARA, PH.D. & LEE KERN, PH.D., INDIVIDUALIZED SUPPORTS FOR STUDENTS WITH PROBLEM BEHAVIORS 2 (2005); OSEP Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports at www.pbis.org (home page).
iii "Keeping All Students Safe Act," H.R. 4247, 111th Cong. (as referred to Senate, March 4, 2010). For evidence that PBS can reduce behavioral referrals and suspensions up to 60%, see, e.g., Luiselli et al., 2002; McCurdy et al., 2003; Scott, 2001; Taylor-Greene & Kartub, 2000. For evidence that PBS improves academic achievement, see, e.g., Easton & Engelhard, 1982; Konstantopoulos, 2006; Roby, 2004; Snell & Mekies, 1995. For evidence that PBS can reduce dropout rates, see, e.g., Barrington & Hendricks, 1989. See also generally Robert H. Horner et al, A Randomized Wait-List Controlled Effectiveness Trial Assessing School-Wide Positive Behavior Support in Elementary Schools, 11 J. POSITIVE BEHAVIOR INTERVENTIONS 133 (2009); Catherine P. Bradshaw et al, The Impact of School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) on the Organizational Health of Elementary Schools, 23 SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGY QUARTERLY 462 (2008); Jeffrey R. Sprague & Robert H. Horner, School Wide Positive Behavioral Supports, in THE HANDBOOK OF SCHOOL VIOLENCE AND SCHOOL SAFETY: FROM RESEARCH TO PRACTICE (Shane R. Jimerson & Michael J. Furlong, eds., 2007). For additional information about PBS, visit www.pbis.org.