Policy Advocacy

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RJN! advocates and organizes around policies that will systemically change educational policies that prevent young people from reaching their full potential with a specific emphasis on Black children.

RJN! completed the First ever School Discipline Report Card for the entire State of Ohio examining 1,067 districts.


RJN! made this information available for parents and other stakeholders so they could make informed decisions when choosing the best school for their children similar to the Academic Report Card conducted by the Ohio Department of Education. Also, parents, and others can use the information to advocate for systemic changes in policies that pushes students out of school. RJN! will be releasing the second annual Ohio School Discipline Report Card in collaboration with the Advancement Project in Spring 2016.

We have advocated for the passage of Ohio Senate Bill 167 in the 130th Ohio General Assembly and now Ohio Senate Bill 34 which would end “zero-tolerance” in Ohio schools.


We have advocated and organized parents and other community stakeholders in asking Dayton Public Schools to revise its school discipline policy and implement positive schools discipline policies such as restorative justice.

DPS has implemented Restorative Justice in 11 schools.
DPS has removed all “zero tolerance” language from the Student Code of Conduct.

DPS implemented a moratorium on all out of school suspensions for Pre-School students.


The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA): The ESEA is the largest federal funding bill for K-12 public education. It was originally enacted in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson who viewed education as a way out of poverty. The bill governs how $23.3 Billion in federal education funding is spent.

It was last reauthorized in 2001 (and enacted in 2002 as No Child Left Behind under President Bush). ESEA expired in 2007 (funding has continued through congressional action).

Why is School Discipline important for ESEA? During the 2011-2012 school year, nearly 3.5 million public school students received at least one out-of-school suspension. Students of color, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ students are most likely to be subjected to overly punitive discipline.

* African American students are suspended at three times the rate of their white peers, despite research showing that they do not misbehave more frequently.

* Students with disabilities are only 13 percent of student enrollment, but were one-quarter of students arrested and referred to law enforcement during the 2011-2012 school year.

* One in five LGBTQ students of color report being bullied by both school staff and their peers.

Students targeted for punitive discipline suffer poor educational outcomes, including loss of valuable instruction time and higher dropout rates. The reauthorization of ESEA presents the opportunity to end zero tolerance policies and practices that are fueling the School-to-Prison-Pipeline, and to instead support inclusive classrooms where all students can thrive.

Senate Bill House Bills

The Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177), is a bipartisan bill that was drafted by Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (RTN) and Ranking Democrat Patty Murray (DWA). The bill is expected to be up for consideration before the full Senate the week of June 8th. The Student Success Act, (H.R. 5)-Is the Republican ESEA Reauthorization bill introduced by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), Chair of the House Education & the Workforce Committee Top-Ranking Democrat on the House Education & the Workforce Committee, Bobby Scott (DVA) has introduced a Democratic substitute to Chairman Kline’s bill, as an Amendment to H.R. 5


1. Data: We support the comprehensive and accurate collection of data on school discipline and school climate (disaggregated by student sub-group, including race, ethnicity, gender, disability status, etc.). We believe that states should accurately and timely report (and publicly post) data on school climate and school discipline.

2. Youth/Parental/Caregiver Involvement: We believe that ESEA should promote the inclusion of youth, parents, and caregivers in the development and implementation of strategies and practices that are proven to work to promote positive and inclusive school climates. We support S. 1177’s inclusion of the requirement of a “needs assessment” developed with input by community stakeholders (including parents, caregivers, and local advocates). This is important for the development and proper implementation of inclusive discipline practices and discipline codes.

3. Funding What Works: We believe that ESEA should target federal investment in proven and inclusive discipline best practices, such as restorative practices, Schoolwide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS), Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) curricula, and professional development training for educators and school leaders on implicit bias, trauma responsive approaches, and cultural competency. We believe that federal support will help address resource inequities that prevent many districts from implementing these positive and inclusive approaches.

4. Accountability: We believe that all schools receiving federal funds, including publicly-funded charter schools, should remain subject to federal oversight and accountability. Schools must act to address school pushout—especially those schools with discipline disparities.

5. Include school climate as a measure of school effectiveness: We believe that schools must be held accountable not only for academic performance, but for fostering and promoting positive and school climates that directly impact student outcomes.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Reauthorization House Bills

The Student Success Act The Democratic Substitute

Bill Name The Student Success Act Democratic Substitute Amendment to H.R. 5

Bill Number H.R. 5 N/A (This Amendment would strike and replace H.R. 5)

Bill Sponsor(s) Rep. John Kline (R‐MN) Rep. Todd Rokita (R‐IN) Rep. Bobby Scott (D‐VA)

Bill Committee House Education and the Workforce House Education and the Workforce

Bipartisan Bill No (Republican Bill) No (Democratic Substitute to H.R. 5)

Passed out of Committee? Yes‐February 11, 2015 No

Considered before full body

(House or Senate)? No (trying to secure more Republican support) No (would be voted on as an amendment to H.R. 5 when H.R. 5 comes up in the full House for floor consideration)

Funding for Positive Discipline

Alternatives Yes‐This strikes Title IV from ESEA (the section related to school safety and school discipline) Would give block grant funding to states‐ ‐‐states could arguably use funding to implement alternatives like Restorative Justice and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) curricula, but no guidance on how to use funds Yes‐Restores Title IV of ESEA‐Safe, Healthy, and Successful Students section Prioritizes funding for low‐performing and low‐income schools. Prohibits additional funding for schools with zero‐tolerance discipline policies and school police with documented excessive or racial disparities in the use of exclusionary discipline.

Funding for School‐Based

Mental Health May fall under an allowable use of blockgranted funds under SWPBIS Yes, also provided in full‐service community schools grants, which would provide wraparound services (including mental health and nutritional needs)

Restraint and Seclusion Doesn’t address Prohibits the use of mechanical or chemical restraints and any physical restraint or physical escort that restricts breathing, except for only the most serious emergencies‐‐‐if student’s

The Student Success Act The Democratic Substitute

Bill Name The Student Success Act Democratic Substitute Amendment to H.R. 5

behavior poses imminent danger of physical injury to himself or others, less restrictive options would be ineffective, and is used by trained school personnel. Parents must be immediately notified. (Use of restraints cannot be a part of a student’s Individualized Education PlanIEP).

Professional Development

(Training for Teachers and

School Leaders) Allowable use of funds for training on classroom management Yes, also considers teacher working conditions (including school climate and safety) in deciding professional development and support

Bullying and Harassment Doesn’t address Amendment requires states seeking funding to develop comprehensive school safety plans, which must include plans to address bullying and harassment, including that based on sexual orientation or gender identity

Family and Community

Engagement Supports family and Community Engagement Includes competitive grants for partnerships between LEAs and community‐based non‐profit entities to support the full‐service community school model—providing students and families and the surrounding community with access to educational, developmental, family, health, and other services at school in coordination with non‐profit, public, and private partners.

Any guidance for school climate/discipline reform interventions

No Requires the adoption of evidence‐based best practices for school safety

Any federal intervention required if states/districts/schools do not address

Discipline disparities? No

Yes, loss of funds to those districts with zero tolerance policies or school police with excessive use‐of‐force or racial disparities in treatment of students

Any federal intervention required for states/districts/schools with high discipline disparities? No Yes, this proposal preserves the federal government’s ability (through the Department of Education) to hold states and schools (including charters) accountable to act when schools perform poorly (school climate included as a measure of school effectiveness)

The Student Success Act The Democratic Substitute

Bill Name The Student Success Act Democratic Substitute Amendment to H.R. 5

Reporting of Discipline Data Not explicitly required Continues reporting on school discipline— school discipline is one of the “equity indicators” that schools are required to report on to measure school improvement

Includes cross‐tabulation of data (i.e. by race and gender)? No Yes (requires reporting of equity indicators, including school discipline and climate) to be disaggregated and crosstabulated (i.e. by race and gender)

Includes data reporting on student interaction with law enforcement? No Yes‐prohibits schools with law enforcement with documented excessive use‐of‐force or racial disparities to receive funds

Additional Bill Info can be found at http://edworkforce.house.gov/ http://democrats.edworkforce.house.gov/ issue/elementary‐and‐secondary‐ education‐act

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