Press Releases

April 04, 2012

FixSchoolDiscipline.org Takes on California School Suspension Crisis

CALIFORNIA – Public Counsel has launched FixSchoolDiscipline.org to support common-sense solutions to California's school suspension epidemic. Last year California students received more than 700,000 school suspensions or expulsions, many for minor behavioral issues that can be handled in school. But because of harsh discipline policies, students wind up out of school – often for an unsupervised vacation. It’s no surprise that students who are suspended are much more likely to leave school completely or get involved with the juvenile justice system.
 
The solution is proven school-wide strategies that hold students accountable for their actions, increase parental involvement with teachers and school leaders, and keep students in school and learning.
 
FixSchoolDiscipline.org features videos, news clips, research, and tools for Californians to take action on several bills now in the Legislature to address some of the worst problems with school discipline rules. A Spanish-language version of the website is at MejorandolaDisciplina.org.
 
The problems with harsh school discipline are getting attention from educational, law enforcement and elected leaders. Last month, California’s Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye talked about the “alarming statistics” of school suspensions and expulsions as a “looming problem” for the state.
 
“I see a looming problem out there,” Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye told state leaders in the State of the Judiciary address to the California Legislature. “If we aren’t responsible for our youth, if we don’t return them to school, if we don’t keep them in school, if we don’t help them become productive citizens, we are paving the way for entry not only into the juvenile justice system, but the adult justice system.”
 
The U.S. Department of Education released data in March showing that the high rate of out-of-school suspensions is a problem nationwide, and students of color and students with disabilities are much more likely to receive out-of-school suspensions and expulsions than other students. For example, in San Francisco Unified School District, black suspension rates are more than 6 times the rate for white students (14.4% vs 2.2%).
 
FixSchoolDiscipline.org / MejorandolaDisciplina.org is a project of Public Counsel, the not for profit law firm that is a statewide education rights leader. Public Counsel is co-sponsor of several bills in the Legislature including SB 1235, AB 2145, and AB 2242. You can read more about the bills at FixSchoolDiscipline.org.
 
“Too many children in California are being pushed out of school, when there is a far better way. We have proven solutions that not only reduce  out-of-school suspensions, but also improve attendance, academic achievement, and school safety,” said Laura Faer, statewide Education Rights Director for Public Counsel. “We are calling on judges, students, law enforcement officials, parents, legislators, school leaders and others to demand reforms to this broken system and adopt solutions that work for all of California’s children. Fixschooldiscipline.org will help them do just that.”
 
The website will feature:
 •           Keep Me In School videos from students, parents and others involved in children’s education.
 •           Action tools to contact California legislators and speak up about the impact of harsh discipline.
 •           Resources to learn more about the problems with harsh school discipline and the common-sense solutions.