School Violence

Each year, millions of students are removed from their classrooms for disciplinary reasons, mostly for minor discretionary offenses. Disciplinary removals may be appropriate in situations in which a student poses an immediate safety risk to himself/herself or others on a school campus. But when such removals are administered for minor misconduct, they are often detrimental to students’ academic and behavioral progress. Research, including the groundbreaking Breaking Schools’ Rules study conducted by The Council of State Governments’ Justice Center, demonstrates that exclusionary disciplinary actions increase a student’s likelihood of falling behind academically, dropping out of school, and coming into contact with the juvenile justice system. A disproportionately large percentage of disciplined students are youth of color, students with disabilities, and youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. In response, states across the country are passing legislation that limits the number of students who are removed from school for disciplinary reasons and provides more supportive responses to misbehavior. In 2014, the CSG Justice Center also released the School Discipline Consensus Report, which provides state and local government officials with a comprehensive roadmap for overhauling their approach to school discipline.

A report released this week by The Council of State Governments Justice Center details more than 60 evidence-based recommendations on how states and communities can make their schools safer and help students succeed. "The School Discipline Consensus Report" is the result of a three-year effort involving a 100-member working group comprised of experts in the field of school safety, behavioral health, juvenile justice, social services, law enforcement and child welfare.

The Act defines harassment as creating a hostile environment that unreasonably and substantially interferes with a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits, or mental, emotional or physical well-being, or conduct, verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause a student to fear for their physical safety. 
The bill prohibits harassment and discrimination of students with respect to certain non-exclusive protected classes, including, but not limited to, a student’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex. 
This Act requires school districts to adopt policies to create a school environment free from harassment and discrimination. School districts must also adopt guidelines for school training programs that raise awareness and sensitivity of school employees to these issues and enables them to respond appropriately. Schools must designate at least one staff member in each school to be trained in non-discriminatory instructional and counseling.