(Los Angeles) Tonight, the Los Angeles Unified School District adopted the School Climate Bill of Rights by a vote of 5 to 2. Approval of the resolution bans “willful defiance” suspensions and directs LAUSD to enact common sense approaches to school discipline and expand programs that support all students in becoming healthy, thriving adults.
“Today our youth rights agenda moves forward as the LAUSD joins our community in accepting the responsibility to support the School Discipline Policy and School Climate Bill of Rights,” said Board President Mónica García. “This resolution means more graduations, less incarceration, it means adults must learn new strategies to teach and practice new discipline policies that support student success.”
As the majority of students in Los Angeles County, young people of color have a vital role to play in making our neighborhoods safer, our economy stronger and steering our city and state towards success. Yet low income and young men of color have the lowest life expectancy rates, highest unemployment rates, fewest high school and college graduates and most murder victims of any demographic group in Los Angeles. This reality starts in school policies that unfairly target students of color for suspensions which ultimately lead to truancy and drop-outs.
“This vote is an important first step in our effort to ensure that every student has an opportunity to thrive,” said Kafi D. Blumenfield, President and CEO of Liberty Hill Foundation which has been managing the campaign. “Passage of The School Climate Bill of Rights signals that L.A. truly wants all students to lead healthy, successful lives.”
In 2007, LAUSD took a first step in addressing school discipline by adopting the School Wide Positive Behavioral and Intervention Supports policy. The School Climate Bill of Rights builds on that effort to ensure that all Los Angeles schools create learning environments that are safe, healthy and supportive for all students.
The resolution will require schools to use measures other than suspension to address minor student infractions, including setting clearer expectations and providing counseling to get at the root of bad behavior when possible, both of which have been found to be more effective approaches. Schools also have the option to pilot additional programs that might prove even more useful, such as detention, or setting up a special classroom, with schoolwork to be done and tutors available, so that students who face disciplinary measures don't fall behind in their studies.
“I am so thrilled that our resolution passed,” said Armando Peña, a youth leader and student at Fremont High School. “It tells me that my school district believes in the right of myself and each of my peers to have a safer and more supportive education.”
For more information or interviews, contact Lester Garcia at 323-633-7288 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every Student Matters is a campaign of the Brothers Sons Selves initiative at Liberty Hill Foundation. Brothers Sons Selves is a coalition of L.A. community organizations working towards a common agenda to improve the lives of young men and was created in partnership with The California Endowment.