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Comment: Student Discipline Policy at Public Schools 2012

Children’s Law Center suggests ways to strengthen proposed regulations from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) on the student discipline policy at all of DC’s public schools. Read a summary below or download the full comments.


Given the harm that school exclusion may cause both to individual students and to the city as a whole when our most vulnerable students become disengaged from school, it is essential that DC establish basic standards for discipline that apply to all schools. Several years ago, DCPS established discipline regulations that encourage schools to use an array of instructive disciplinary consequences short of exclusion. There is currently no such guidance for the charter schools. Many of the DC public charter schools do not have appropriate disciplinary policies on the books at all. Children’s Law Center clients have experienced many inappropriate discipline incidents at charter schools.

The proposed regulations have many strengths. But there are opportunities for them to be stronger. We suggest:

  • including more clear and specific limitations on school exclusions (suspensions and expulsions)
  • limiting restraing and emergency separations in all DC schools
  • forbidding push-out practices, where schools tell parents they must withdraw their children or face suspension or expulsion
  • clarifying the elements needed in a “school-wide crisis intervention plan”