Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee,
Positive Discipline Coordinator Dr. Cindy Jackson, and Arsenal Technical High
School Principal Julie Bakehorn joined a group of superintendents, principals, and teachers from
across the country at a gathering
by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice. “Rethink Discipline,” a day-long conference at the White House, focused
on helping school districts to create
positive school climates and implement effective discipline practices.

“Creating and sustaining safe, supportive schools is absolutely essential
to ensuring students can engage in the rich learning experiences they need for
success in college, work and life –that’s why rethinking school discipline is
critical to boosting student achievement and improving school outcomes. Today’s
conference shows that there are leaders across the country who are committed to
doing this work. We are proud to stand as partners with these educators to say
that we have to continue to do better for all of our students,” said U.S.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

According to data from the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), the number
of students losing critical learning time due to out of school suspensions and
expulsions is staggering. More than 3 million students are suspended or
expelled every year. IPS is committed to innovative and positive behavior
support practices; in the last year we’ve reduced suspensions by 41% and
expulsions by 83%!

At the event, school and government leaders learned more about
new maps based on CRDC data illustrating out-of-school suspensions across the
country to help educators and
communities understand the extent of this practice. The following maps were released today:

Percent of
all students who have received one or more out-of-school suspensions by
district Map and Data Table  

Percent of
students with disabilities who have received one or more out-of-school
suspensions by district Map and Data Table 

New resources and initiatives were announced today to assist school leaders
in their efforts to reduce suspensions and expulsions and provide safe and
supportive school environments. The resources are:

the Root Causes of Disciplinary Disparities: An Educator’s Action Planning Guide:
This new resource from the Department’s
National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments provides a guide to
assist schools and districts in identifying the root causes of disparities in
the outcomes of school discipline through an analysis of student-level
discipline data.  Addressing the Root Cause of School
Discipline Disparities
provides a
practical, action-oriented method for schools and districts to develop an
action plan to address the roots causes of discipline disparities. The Guide
includes a Disciplinary Disparities Risk Assessment Tool to aid in data
gathering and analysis, templates to help plan and facilitate communication among
stakeholders, real world examples from schools and districts already
experiencing success and much more tools and information.

School Discipline: Resource Guide for Superintendent Action:
This Resource Guide offers a set of seven potential action items
to help school leaders implement safe, supportive school climate and discipline
by engaging stakeholders, assessing the results and history of existing school
climate and discipline systems and practices; implementing reform; and
monitoring progress. Also included in the Resource Guide are links to federal
guidance and resources as well as postcard templates that districts may use to
support local educator and parent and family engagement in the district’s
school discipline reform efforts.

Support for State and Local Educational Leaders and Partners from Other
On July 27, the U.S. Department of Justice is launching the National Resource Center for School Justice
to advance school discipline reform efforts across the nation. In addition
to serving as a dynamic resource hub, the center will also serve as a training
and technical assistance portal for juvenile courts, schools, law enforcement
agencies, and others to support school discipline reform efforts at the local
level. Among its many responsibilities, the Center
will support the Supportive School Discipline Training and Technical Assistance
Collaborative, an effort by the U.S. Departments of Justice, Education, and
Health and Human Services to coordinate resources and provide strategic support
to schools and school communities in areas such as building safe and supportive
learning environments and addressing disparities in discipline for students of
color and students with disabilities.

Public Awareness Campaign:
In the
weeks and months following the conference, the U.S. Department of Education
will continue to use social media events, blogs, and other approaches to engage
the field about new tools and resources to help school communities to improve
school climate and discipline.

The White House Rethink
Discipline conference builds on the work of the President’s My Brother’s
Keeper Initiative (MBK)
to the White House Council on
Women and Girls (CWG)
, and the Supportive
School Discipline Initiative— a collaboration between the U.S. Departments of
Education and Justice launched in 2011 to support the use of school discipline
practices that foster safe, supportive, and productive learning environments
while keeping students in school. 


For more information about the
Administration’s work on school climate and discipline go to