Fairfax County considers itself among the most progressive educational jurisdictions in the country – even the world. But its discipline policies are derided by child experts, lawyers, and parents around the country. Our neighbors appear more enlightened.
Near Fairfax County in Maryland, the Prince George’s County Public School Board (130,000 students) is reviewing its student discipline policies. Why? A county report released in December 2008 (see Document Library) showed that suspensions aren’t working. The school board directed its staff to establish a "Suspension Reduction Task Force" and report back to the board at the June 2009 meeting. Here’s what its February 26, 2009 resolution, passed unanimously, states in part:
“WHEREAS, the research does not show a clear link between the use of suspension and the improvement of school safety or school climate; and WHEREAS, there is ample evidence that suspension from school has a negative impact on student achievement and makes future disciplinary problems more likely; and WHEREAS, suspension from school is disproportionately applied to male students and students of color... Be it finally resolved that the Task force shall...make recommendations to the Board and Superintendent on the following: • Best practices and creative options for corrective action and restorative justice [its emphasis] rather than punitive discipline. • Revisions to Code of Student Conduct and other disciplinary policies and procedures to enable more effective interventions that avoid taking students out of class during the school day, within the law of the State of Maryland.”
Shouldn’t WE in Fairfax County be as enlightened? Should WE be leading the nation to ensure EVERY child's Constitutional, due process, and educational rights are protected, and that the process is just, consistent, individualized, transparent, and monitored? And WORKS?
Mission:Transform the Fairfax County Public School
discipline system from a criminal and punitive approach to a restorative,
educational, and therapeutic process by working with families, FCPS,
county staff, civil rights and child development specialists, and legal