Implementing the U.S. Department of Education's New School Discipline Policies

A Three-Year Positive Behavioral Support Implementation Blueprint, and Two Upcoming Federal Grants to Pay for It

Dear Colleagues,

With Spring Training starting this week in Florida and Arizona, the weather--hopefully--will begin (continue) to warm up soon.

Last week, I attended and presented a workshop at the annual convention of the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) in Washington, DC. My presentation was titled, Rethinking PBS and RtI: Essential Changes Needed to Improve Services, and I discussed numerous strategies and approaches that go well beyond those recommended by the U.S. Department of Education's various Technical Assistance (TA) Centers in these, and other school improvement, areas.

We strongly recommend that you review these evidence-based school improvement, positive behavioral support, and response-to-intervention approaches. Critically, the U.S. Department of Education typically publicizes only the approaches that it has funded. Thus, in order to be "good consumers," you need to research and evaluate the many other effective programs and approaches that are available-choosing those that will best help you meet your student, staff, and school needs.

This Week's Topic: Effective Practices that Address the Department of Education's Recent School Discipline Guidelines. . . . and Two Upcoming Grants to Fund Them

Last month, the U.S. Department of Education (DoE), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice, released a school discipline guidance package to assist states, districts, and schools in developing practices and strategies to enhance school climate and ensure that these policies and practices comply with federal law. Some of the outcomes targeted school climate, decreasing suspensions and expulsions, and addressing the disproportionate representation of minorities relative to school discipline.

The DoE identified three guiding principles for policymakers, district officials, school leaders, and stakeholders to consider as they work to improve school climate and discipline:

  • Create positive climates and focus on prevention;
  • Develop clear, appropriate, and consistent expectations and consequences to address disruptive student behaviors; and
  • Ensure fairness, equity, and continuous improvement.

As noted above, the resource materials (the Directory of Federal School Climate and Discipline Resources) reported only on federal resources.

Now that the federal budget has been passed by Congress (last month), the DoE is beginning to post upcoming grants that will soon be available to states, districts, and schools.

One grant, The Elementary and Secondary School Counseling grant will be available on March 18th and due on May 2nd. In the past, this grant has funded school-wide positive behavioral support initiatives, as well as training in and services for students with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges.

A second grant, The School Climate Transformation grant will be available on April 30th and due on June 13th. This is a new grant, and it appears to be directly related to the federal school discipline guidelines discussed above.

Meanwhile, as always, please feel free to share these and other materials that you find on the Project ACHIEVE website with your colleagues, education and community leaders, and parents across your district or state.