LOS ANGELES (May 13, 2014) - In an effort to keep more students in school, reduce chronic absences and boost academic performance, the Los Angeles School Board today reaffirmed the School Discipline Policy and School Climate Bill of Rights and established May as School Climate Bill of Rights Awareness Month.
The resolution, sponsored by Board Member Mónica García and co-sponsored by Board Vice President Steve Zimmer and Board Member Mónica Ratliff, emphasizes progress over punishment. The policy specifically promotes alternatives to school suspensions and implements restorative justice strategies. Through school-wide positive behavior interventions and supports, students and family members are also offered guidance, problem-solving strategies and motivation to commit to staying out of trouble, attending school and pursuing academic goals.
“The School Climate Bill of Rights Resolution of 2013 has created a path for change in our schools,” said School Board Member Mónica García. “Today, the month of May has been dedicated to raise awareness about the School Climate Bill of Rights to continue to celebrate best practice, collaboration and achievement!”
"The School Climate Bill of Rights is a landmark, nation leading initiative that engages our struggling students instead of excluding them. By eliminating willful defiance we have removed one tool of institutional racism. But there is so much more work to be done. I stand behind the investment and commitment called for in this resolution. We can and we will build schools that honor our students and transform outcomes. I cannot reaffirm my support strongly enough,” stated Steve Zimmer, Board Vice President.
School Board Member Ratliff said, “Last year, I was not on the board when it took the brave step of passing the School Climate Bill of Rights resolution. Today, I am pleased to join Board Member García and Vice President Zimmer and the other board members in celebrating this groundbreaking initiative. I look forward to the work ahead for the measure's implementation to realize its promise of promoting a more conducive learning environment for all of our students.”
“As we celebrate mental health month this May, we acknowledge restorative justice as a more effective discipline practice and strategy for student achievement,” said Aurea Montes-Rodriguez, vice president, Community Coalition. “We applaud today’s victory in establishing May as School Climate Bill of Rights Month.”
“The one-year anniversary of the passage of the School Climate Bill of Rights resolution presents us a great opportunity to refocus on ending the school to jail pipeline and supporting all of our students to succeed,” stated Maria Brenes, executive director, InnerCity Struggle, an Eastside community group.
The resolution also stresses the commitment to closing the achievement gap by providing equitable access to a vigorous education, ensuring that all students graduate from high school, college-prepared and career-ready.
The new approach is an antidote to the once-popular zero-tolerance policy that aggressively pushed students out for infractions, such as “willful defiance,” including challenging the authority of adults on campus.
A goal, according to the resolution, is ending outdated disciplinary practices and punishments, sometimes with negative consequences leading to the “school to prison pipeline.” Instead, more mental-health-based approaches are used to correct inappropriate behavior and to promote a positive school environment.
Recognizing May as School Climate Bill of Rights Awareness Month, according to the resolution, also provides “an opportunity for all students in LAUSD to deepen their educational experience, and strengthen their connection to the school’s culture.”
Contact: Lizette Patron (213) 241-6021