How to Improve School Attendance

A Practical Guide for Schools and School Districts
A Project of the Los Angeles County Education Coordinating Council

Module 2: Student Discipline and Positive Behavioral Support — 1

One foundation for ensuring consistent attendance is making the school environment a safe, positive, and respectful one, so that students want to be there. One component of that is dealing with discipline—what to do when certain behaviors disrupt the classroom or the playing field?

A Human Rights Framework for Schools (Dignity in Schools)38

All children and youth have a human right to high-quality public education in safe and supportive environments, providing a foundation for access to higher education, meaningful employment, and full participation in society. Yet current educational policies and practices are pushing millions of young people out of school. This "pushout" crisis is fueled by many factors, including zero-tolerance and other punitive discipline policies, one-size-fits-all educational models, a lack of adequate resources and support for teachers, and a lack of meaningful participation of students, parents, and the larger community.

Each year, over 3 million students across the country are suspended and over 100,000 are expelled. These punitive practices do not improve student behavior, but rather increase the likelihood that students will fall behind academically and drop out, contributing to an unhealthy atmosphere affecting the entire school community. Students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, and other marginalized communities are affected the most by these barriers to education, resulting in millions of children and young people being pushed out of school and into poverty, unemployment, and often prison. To end this pushout crisis and improve educational outcomes for all young people, educators, policy-makers, students, parents, and communities must work together toward a new bold vision for education.

The Model Code on Education and Dignity created by the Dignity in Schools Campaign—an executive summary of which is included in this manual as Module 2 Appendix A, starting on page 170—contains chapters on education, participation, dignity, freedom from discrimination, and data, monitoring, and accountability. Each chapter contains:

Round Bullet  Background on the current educational policies and practices that contribute to school pushout, as well as the research and best practices to support the positive solutions presented in the Model Code

Round Bullet  Sections and sub-sections that address particular topic areas and that identify a human rights goal for each, reflecting the shift in values necessary to achieve not only a change in policy, but also to create a culture that ensures the rights and meets the needs of students and other stakeholders

Round Bullet  Recommended language for policy-makers at the school, district, or state level to adopt
as law or regulation, including definitions, recommended policies and procedures, guidelines for creating stakeholder committees and planning teams, and requirements for trainings and evaluation processes

A PowerPoint presentation on the Model Code made to the School Attendance Task Force in November 2012 is also included in this manual as Module 2 Appendix B.

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38 Narrative adapted from A Model Code on Education and Dignity Executive Summary prepared by the Dignity in Schools Campaign, The full executive summary is available as Module 2 Appendix A to this manual.