Governor Terry McAuliffe recently announced his 'Classrooms not Courtrooms' initiative. It is a multi-agency, administration-wide push to reduce student referrals to law enforcement, reduce suspensions and expulsions, address the disparate impact these practices have on African-Americans and students with disabilities, and address the emphasis on subjective offenses like disorderly conduct.
Research indicates that excessive use of exclusionary discipline has a negative impact on the learning environment, student achievement, graduation rates, and rates of juvenile crime and delinquency.
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is working with other state agencies to implement a variety of strategies, including but not limited to:
- Updating the DCV offense codes and producing a training program for administrators;
- Developing a standardized joint training program for School Resource Officers and administrators;
- Rewriting the Model Memorandum of Understanding that provides divisions and law enforcement with a framework for developing local agreements about the role and function of School Resource Officers;
- Rewriting the School Resource Officer Program Guide that provides School Resource Officers with in-depth guidelines and guidance; and
- Continuing coaching supports and professional development to divisions implementing Virginia Tiered Systems of Supports (VTSS)
The VTSS is a framework integrating academics, behavior (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) and mental health instruction, resources and supports so that every student can be successful. An additional resource is “VDOE Virginia's Tiered Systems of Support”, a PEATC webinar presented by VDOE’s Dr. Thomas Manthey.
The Office of Student Services at VDOE will provide an introductory webinar on the VTSS from 2 - 3 p.m. EST on January 21, 2016; registration information will be provided via a Superintendent’s Memo in the coming weeks. An additional resource is the U.S. Department of Education Guiding Principles: A Resource for Improving School Climate and Discipline.
VDOE Superintendent’s Memo #277-15
At NAACP meeting, McAuliffe announces initiative to address school discipline (October 30, 2015)
Ferriss, Susan, Virginia tops nation is sending kids to cops, courts: Where does your state rank? The Center for Public Integrity, April 10, 2015.
Belway, S., Hodson, C., Losen, D., Keith II, M., Morrision, K., Are We Closing the School Discipline Gap? The Center for Civil Rights Remedies, February 2015.