A Vancouver Public Schools steering committee met Thursday to hear a consultant’s preliminary report on recommended actions that the district should take to improve equity in its student disciplinary practices. Daniel Losen of the UCLA Center for Civil Rights Remedies delivered the report after working with district staff for several months to gather and analyze information.
VPS formed the steering committee in December to seek input and guidance from staff and community members in response to the Washington State Attorney General’s Office investigation of disproportionate discipline in the district. The AGO found that VPS had higher rates of discipline for special education, African American, Native American and Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students
The consultant’s recommendations include the following:
- Review all out-of-school suspensions greater than three days, and identify ways for suspended students to continue their learning;
- Provide training and support to assist with culturally responsive teaching, classroom management and restorative justice practices;
- Employ an educational program ombudsman to support and advocate for students and families affected by disciplinary matters;
- Refine systems and reporting processes related to student discipline, including arrests by law enforcement, to ensure appropriate and timely information;
- Modify the application of the code of conduct and the use of exclusionary practices, and consolidate the discipline codes;
- Increase support for teachers and staff to ensure compliance with special education discipline and behavior intervention plans; and,
- Continue to collaborate with the UCLA Center for Civil Rights Remedies to provide data, progress monitoring reports and longitudinal results regarding disparate treatment and administration of the settlement agreement and improvement action plan.
“This work is about providing a safe and supportive learning environment for all of our students,” said Superintendent Steve Webb. “We are committed to understanding the factors that may contribute to disparities in student discipline and, ultimately, reducing those disparities.”
VPS will continue to work with Losen over the next two and a half school years to ensure that the action steps are implemented and discipline equity is improved at all schools within the district.