At DCPS, we are committed to educating the whole child by providing rigorous, joyful, and inclusive academic and social emotional learning experiences to ensure all students are college and career ready. A key component of this is work is creating safe, supportive, and inclusive learning environments for both students and staff. We believe that the focus on educating the whole child will help to ensure an environment where all can grow and learn in order to become our best selves.
Student Fair Access to School Act
In May 2018, the DC Council passed the Student Fair Access to School Act, which was reviewed by the Mayor and enacted on July 12, 2018. This new law requires changes to DCPS student discipline policies over the course of three school years. Most significantly, beginning in school year 2018-2019, the Act places restrictions on the number of consecutive and cumulative days in any out-of-school suspension that students can receive:
- Students in grades K-5 cannot receive an out-of-school suspension for a single discipline incident that exceeds 5 consecutive days.*
- Students in grades 6-12 cannot receive an out-of-school suspension for a single discipline incident that exceeds 10 consecutive days.*
- Students in grades K-12 cannot receive more than 20 cumulative days of out-of-school suspension, unless the Chancellor provides a written justification to the student and parent describing why exceeding the 20-day limit is a more appropriate disciplinary action than alternative responses; or the student's conduct necessitated an emergency removal, and the Chancellor provides a written justification for the emergency removal to the student and parent.*
2019-2020 Update: Beginning School Year 2019-2020, no K-5 student may be subject to an out-of-school suspension or disciplinary unenrollment, unless the student has willfully caused, attempted to cause, or threatened to cause bodily injury or emotional distress to another person, including behavior that happens off school grounds.
*The exception to the above requirements is if a student violates the Gun Free Schools Act. This federal law requires all schools to expel a student, who is determined to have brought a firearm to a school, or to have possessed a firearm at a school, from attending school for a period of not less than 1 year. The Chancellor can modify the expulsion requirement.
As part of our commitment to creating joyful learning environments, DCPS commissioned a review of discipline policies, procedures, and practices at 10 schools during school years 15-16 and 16-17. The goal of this review was to inform areas where we can collectively improve systems and supports for schools, staff, and students concerning discipline matters. DCPS is also developing a Behavior Task Force to ensure that school communities are best positioned to develop safe, supportive, and nurturing learning environments. More specifically, in school year 18-19 we are:
- Increasing the quality and frequency of supports for all staff that support school-wide behavior to include principals, assistant principals, deans, behavior tech, and special education staff. For example:
- Schools will focus on embedding social-emotional learning and restorative practices into their school-level policies, practices, and classroom experiences;
- Assessing our current discipline data management systems to determine their capacity to provide accurate, timely data that can be used to impact discipline trends.
- Developing a monitoring framework that provides frequent touch points for principals and central office staff to review discipline data for accuracy and trends that might suggest data integrity issues.
We look forward to engaging on this work with practitioners and stakeholders across the city.
Questions? Please email Justin McClain ([email protected]), Manager, Student Behavior.