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Feds Link Unfair, Discriminatory, and Ineffective School Discipline to Gun Violence

7:12 AM, Jan 8, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
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On Wednesday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder are scheduled to make a joint appearance at Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore, MD.  The purpose of the visit is to hold a roundtable with students on "Solutions to Enhance School Climate/Improve Discipline Policies and Practices" and to make an announcement, accompanied by "civil rights advocates and local community members."

The exact nature of the announcement is not disclosed in the notification released by the Education Department, but the background provided seems to suggest a link between unfair, discriminatory, and ineffective school discipline and gun violence in schools:

Even though incidents of school violence have decreased overall, too many schools are still struggling to create positive, safe environments. Schools can improve safety by making sure that climates are welcoming and that responses to misbehavior are fair, non-discriminatory, and effective. Each year, significant numbers of students miss class due to suspensions and expulsions—even for minor infractions of school rules—and students of color and with disabilities are disproportionately impacted. As part of President Obama’s Now is the Time proposal to reduce gun violence, the Department of Education was called on to collect and disseminate best practices on school discipline policies and to help school districts develop and equitably implement their policies.

The notice links to the White House webpage on gun violence, which was established shortly after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT.  The president's plan, released in 2012, includes having the Justice Department provide incentives for schools to hire more resource officers, as well as develop models for best practices for those officers to work in age-appropriate ways with students. 

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