Through the Supportive School Discipline Initiative (SSDI), the U.S. Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Education (ED) are working to end harsh and exclusionary discipline practices that push youth out of school and into the justice system. OJJDP is coordinating DOJ’s work on the initiative.
A groundbreaking study in Texas by the Council of State Governments Justice Center found that 97 percent of the students who were suspended or expelled were being punished for nonviolent behaviors, including minor infractions such as tardiness or dress code violations. Youth who were suspended or expelled were nearly three times as likely to be in contact with the juvenile justice system the following year. In addition, the study revealed that students who were African American or who qualified for special education services were treated more harshly than were other students.
On January 8, 2014, DOJ and ED released a joint resource package for policymakers, legislators, educators, law enforcement professionals, healthcare practitioners, advocates, and researchers to assist them in creating safe and positive school climates. The package consists of four components:
“A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal's office, not in a police precinct,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “This guidance will promote fair and effective disciplinary practices that will make schools safe, supportive, and inclusive for all students. By ensuring federal civil rights protections, offering alternatives to exclusionary discipline, and providing useful information to school resource officers, we can keep America's young people safe and on the right path.”
Following are a few examples of OJJDP’s other current SSDI activities:
OJJDP is also providing financial assistance to the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges to evaluate the replication of successful school and court partnerships. This project is designed to reduce student referrals to court for nonserious behaviors by developing a curriculum and training that will be tested in up to 16 sites.
To access OJJDP's Webinar series on school discipline, visit the State Training and Technical Assistance Web site. More information about the Supportive School Discipline Initiative, the Council of State Governments, and the School Discipline Consensus Project is available online.