In Fall 2017, OSPI proposed new students discipline rules that aimed to limit the use of suspension and expulsion; provide clear definitions and procedures for types of discipline; provide guidelines for educational services during suspension or expulsion; and support student’s successful return to school with reengagement plans.
EEC and 60 other organizations signed off on an official public comment to Chief Legal Officer of OSPI to applaud OSPI for their step in the right direction and offer modifications in the proposal to better support students, families, and teachers. The modifications include:
1) Requiring Alternatives to Suspension and Expulsion
OSPI should require the use of best practices and other forms of non-exclusionary discipline before students are suspended or expelled, and clarify that schools should administer discipline in ways that respond to the holistic needs of the student and support the student in meeting behavioral expectations.
2) Engaging Parents in Discipline in a Culturally Appropriate Manner and Ensuring Language Access
To strengthen the rules, OSPI should require parents to be notified
of an initial conference between a student and school administrator who may impose suspension or expulsion. It should also require that districts provide language access services to parents for initial conferences with school administrators, and all stages of discipline proceedings.
3) Collecting Data on Informal Exclusion
4) Ensuring Instruction in Education Services and Facilitating Parent Input
We encourage OSPI to clarify that students should receive instruction when they are excluded from their ordinary classes for any length of time, and that all relevant services and supports must be provided.
5) Limiting Overly Coercive Behavior Agreements
We encourage OSPI to require that conditions in behavior agreements must be rationally related to the behavioral violation
that gave rise to the agreement (for instance, a student suspended for bullying should not be required to complete drug testing) and should incorporate evidence-based strategies.
6) Reconciling Definitions of Corporal Punishment with Restraint and Isolation Laws
7) Increasing Focus on Reducing Disparities for Students with Disabilities
The full letter can be read here: Discipline Rules Letter to OSPI.