FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 16, 2017
Denver – Thursday, March 16 – Board of Education members unanimously approved “The Resolution Towards Ending Suspensions and Expulsions of Young Learners (English and Spanish).” The declaration commits to modifying board policies and regulations “intended to dramatically reduce the use of suspension and eliminate expulsions” for Early Childhood Education (ECE) through third-grade students, except in cases required by law.
Before the board votes on changing policy, the district will solicit feedback from its broad and diverse community of families, educators and community members over the next 60 days. Gathering this information from stakeholders will ensure that DPS is proactively supporting students, families and educators.
“I think that it is terribly important to make sure that we are listening to teachers and school leaders as part of the plan,” said Board Vice President Barbara O’Brien. “We have to understand the tools they need to help students when they really need it, so we can improve what is happening in kids’ lives and help them get back to the business of absorbing everything that is around them.”
The document states that Denver Public Schools will consider “the resources available to support the whole child, with particular attention to empowering educators with tools and resources to engage young learners and improve behavior outcomes through proactive supports, interventions and alternatives to suspension and expulsion.”
“The message that we are sending to our youngest students and families is that we are starting early and we are starting smart,” said Board Member Rachele Espiritu. “The best place for you to be is in school. And, that’s where we want to see you thriving and being successful.”
DPS has been at the forefront of discipline reform nationally. Over the last decade, DPS has reduced its suspension and expulsion rates by more than two-thirds.
In 2014, the U.S. Department of Education shared that young students who are expelled or suspended are as much as 10 times more likely to drop out of high school, experience academic failure and grade retention, hold negative school attitudes and face incarceration.
“Taking this important step to help our kids, to change our culture to keep our kids in school and drive our success, is fundamental,” said Superintendent Tom Boasberg. “Equally important is to dialogue with our teachers, our parents and our community members to determine how we make sure that we implement this successfully.”
Questions and comments on “The Resolution Towards Ending Suspensions and Expulsions of Young Learners” can be submitted via email to DisciplineReform@dpsk12.org. In addition, DPS will hold focus groups and community meetings to gather input. Dates have not yet been set.
The board also unanimously approved “The Resolution for Strengthening Neighborhoods (English and Spanish),” which calls for a citywide committee to be formed to review changing demographics and housing patterns in Denver and the effect those changes are having on schools. This committee will make recommendations on policies around boundaries, choice, enrollment and academic programs in order to drive greater socio-economic integration in schools.
As Denver continues to grow and housing prices increase, the district’s diverse neighborhoods are struggling to balance the challenges of gentrification with their rich cultural histories. In addition, changes in housing patterns and demographics have resulted in a significant decrease in the number of school-aged children in a number of areas.
“As we look at the quite dramatic changes in our neighborhoods, this work is incredibly important to the goals we have embedded in the Denver Plan,” said Board President Anne Rowe. “It’s really about how we create equity and access to high-quality schools for our children. So, I am enthusiastically supporting the creation of this committee.”