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Oklahoma City Public Schools Agrees to Plan Addressing Discipline Problems

Oklahoma City Public Schools has reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Education to address the disproportionate discipline of black students in the district.

The department released a report saying the district has been proactive in addressing the problem so far.

“I applaud the district for its commitment to improving its discipline policies, procedures and practices for the students it serves every school day, including through evaluation of its reliance on and training for school resource officers,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for the Office for Civil Rights in a press release.

But the district still has some work to do. 

Some of the requirements within the agreement are:

·        The district must designate an employee to serve as the district’s discipline supervisor.

·         Prohibit exclusionary discipline to the maximum extent possible.

·         Retain experts to advise the district on research-based strategies to prevent discrimination.

·         Implement revised policies and practices.

·         Require training for staff and administrators and programs for students and parents to explain the     policies and behavioral expectations.

·         Requires the district to provide teachers and administrators with the tools and training to support positive student behavior to prevent and address misconduct.

·         Requires school staff to employ a range of corrective measures before referring a student to disciplinary authorities.

·         Ensures a system of supports at each school to assess students who display behavior problems.

·         Requires a comprehensive review of the School Resource Officer program to assess the program’s effectiveness and alignment with ensuring misbehavior is addressed in a manner that minimizes exclusionary discipline to the maximum extent possible.

·         Facilitates communication with the parent complainant should she choose to re-enroll her children

The district released a statement saying:

Several of the requirements detailed in the agreement have been addressed by OKCPS, including creation of the Office of Discipline and Student Climate. There are additional required corrective actions the district will be implementing and monitoring as part of the agreed upon resolution. OKCPS is in the process of developing a plan to address every aspect of the resolution.

This agreement stems from a 2014 Office of Civil Rights complaint that the district was suspending black students at higher rates than others. A two-year-long investigation concluded that it was.

When the Office of Civil Rights agrees the district has fully implemented the terms of the agreement they will close the complaint.

Emily Wendler was KOSU's education reporter from 2015 to 2019.
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