Exclusions from school can no longer be indefinite.
Emergency expulsions are now required to be converted to another corrective action within 10 school days.
School districts are now required to make reasonable efforts to assist students to returning to school, including hosting reengagement meetings with students and parents.
More robust discipline data will now be collected, cross tabulated, disaggregated and made publicly available.
A discipline task force will be created to develop standard definitions for discretionary disciplinary actions and investigate the provision of educational services during those exclusions.
The new school discipline law went into effect on September 30, 2014. However, earlier in 2014, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the state education agency, issued proposed rules to fill in the details of the new law.
While there are many great components of the proposed rules, Washington Appleseed and our allies at TeamChild, League of Education Voters, ACLU, Office of Education Ombudsman, and Equity in Education Coalition worked on changes to the proposal in order to reduce the disparate impact of school discipline and improve outcomes for students.
Washington Appleseed has completed an initial data analysis for selected school districts (Bellevue, Edmonds, Federal Way, Marysville, Olympia, Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, and Yakima). This analysis spotlights the ongoing disproportionate impact of school discipline present in all school districts and emphasizes the disparities from district to district in the use of discipline practices. Above all, this data shows the need for strong, clear rules that help safeguard positive outcomes for Washington students.
Download the analysis packet here (all selected districts included):
We are happy to report that ESSB 5946, the school discipline legislation spurred by Appleseed’s Reclaiming Students report, began full implementation this school year with the support of clear and instructive regulations from OSPI. These regulations reflect the advocacy efforts of Appleseed and a coalition of equity and education groups, securing the strongest requirements for student reengagement to date.
The new discipline regulations include some strong wins for Washington students, including:
Reengagement meetings are required. This will help students return and reengage in school.
Long-term suspensions cannot last longer than one semester/trimester and are limited to the current school year. This will help decrease the amount of time students are removed from school.
Students cannot be suspended or expelled for expressing suicidal thoughts. This is common sense. Previously, a number of schools were removing students who expressed suicidal thoughts.
OSPI is developing resources for districts that focus on alternative interventions. This will hopefully encourage schools to address students’ behavior in a constructive manner.
Unfortunately, the final regulations did not include some of our key advocacy points. To date, students can be suspended and expelled for being truant. Additionally, the rules do not protect students who were suspended or expelled prior to the new law, so many of these students do not have a path back to school.
These are just a few of the problems that persist within school discipline. In a review of 2012-2013 data from OSPI, Appleseed confirmed that the majority of disciplinary incidents are for non-violent student behavior and that these minor behavioral infractions result in significant days of school missed throughout the year. We can confirm that disproportionality in disciplinary incidents is a persistent problem in our schools, not only for students of color, but also for students with special needs. See Appleseed’s recent statewide Snapshot for more details.
Appleseed will continue to monitor the use of exclusionary discipline across the state and is launching a more in-depth investigation on the impact of 5946 and its effectiveness in reducing the negative impacts of exclusions and the rate of disproportionality in discipline incidents.
Katie Mosehauer, Principal Author
Executive Director, Washington Appleseed
Nicole McGrath, Contributor
Staffff Attorney, TeamChild
Jeannie Nist, Contributor
Statewide Training & Advocacy Coordinator, TeamChild
Karen Pillar, Contributor
Staff Attorney, TeamChild
We gratefully acknowledge the involvement of many people who contributed to this report. Thank you to our team at Garvey Schubert Barer for spearheading the public records request and data collection: Tyler Arnold, Attorney; Michelle DeLappe, Attorney; Kristi Emigh, Paralegal; Roger Hillman, Attorney; Elaine Jackson, Legal Assistant; Rachel Jackson, Records Specialist; Ronald J. Knox, Attorney; Nga Nguyen, Legal Intern; Kasha Roseta, Legal Intern; Don Scaramastra, Attorney; Verna Seal, Paralegal; Victoria Slade, Attorney; and Sandy Ullom, Paralegal. We also gratefully acknowledge Dojo Technologies for compiling all of this information into a database.
Thank you to our team of interns and fellows for conducting and transcribing all of our field interviews and assisting with background research: Samantha Ayala, TeamChild Youth Intern; Randall Enlow, TeamChild Law Student Intern; Meron Fikru, TeamChild Youth Intern; Tamara Howie, TeamChild Law Student Intern; Valerie O’Driscoll, Washington Appleseed Legal Fellow; and Camille Zhou, Washington Appleseed Legal Fellow.
We are very grateful to the individuals who participated in our field interviews to share their perspective on school discipline (for a list of participants, see Appendix A on page 50).
Thank you to those individuals who contributed to or gave thoughtful input during the drafting of this report (organizations and agencies are listed for affiliation only and do not necessarily indicate endorsement of the report): Hillary Behrman, TeamChild; Peter Collins, Seattle University Criminal Justice Department; Sarah Dunne, ACLU of Washington; Ronald J. Knox, Washington Appleseed Board Member (emeritus); Jason Kovacs, Washington Appleseed; Anne Lee, TeamChild; Michael Pierson, Washington Appleseed Board Member; Linda Mangel, ACLU of Washington; Alice Ostdiek, Washington Appleseed Board Member; Kristen Rogers; Sumeer Singla, Washington Appleseed Board Member; Rose Spidell, ACLU of Washington; Caroline Tillier, TeamChild; Tracy Sherman, League of Education Voters.
Thank you to our production team: Erin M. Schadt, copy editing; Katie Mosehauer, graphic design. The preparation of this report was made possible in part with financial support from the Washington State Partnership Council on Juvenile Justice.
Washington Appleseed was proud to be a driving force behind the passage of ESSB 5946, establishing the first reforms to school discipline practices in decades.
This new law addresses several of the recommendations in Washington Appleseed's report, Reclaiming Students, and achieves the following: