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Superintendent to Convene Suspension Ban Review Team to Evaluate Progress and Potential Expansion of Moratorium on Nonviolent Suspensions

Updates to Equity Website Support Development of Racial and Equity Consciousness

 

Today, Superintendent Anthony Hamlet, Ed.D., announces the convening of a Suspension Ban Review Team to evaluate the District’s implementation of a K-2 suspension ban for non-violent infractions and the potential ban expansion. The convening follows the conclusion of the District’s first full school year of implementation of the current moratorium.   Dr. Hamlet will seek a cross-section of stakeholders to serve on the Review Team.  The team will consist of local educators, professionals, advocates and parents who will help PPS work towards the goal of reducing suspensions.

 

“We know that the ways students are disciplined in school impact their connection to their school community and access to instruction, and while we have seen significant declines in suspension rates, a disparity remains in the rate of suspension of our African American students,” said Superintendent Anthony Hamlet. “We know that expertise exists in our community that can inform our work to implement discipline practices that are appropriate and fair. We must evaluate the impacts of the current moratorium for the possible expansion to higher grade levels.”

 

Since Dr. Hamlet’s arrival, the District’s overall suspension rate has decreased from 16.10% in 2015-16 to 10.20% in 2019-20 (10.90% in 2017-18).  On December 20, 2017, following Board and community concerns regarding the use of exclusionary discipline for young students, the Board approved revisions to the District’s Suspension and Expulsion Policy that ban the use of out of school suspension of students enrolled in grades below third grade for non-violent minor disciplinary infractions.  The moratorium is one of six Action Steps within the District’s On Track to Equity Plan dedicated to creating equity in discipline.

 

In addition, to the District efforts to impact school climate through the use of key behavioral supports for students such as, Restorative Practices, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and the Student Assistance Programs, the following steps have been taken to reduce disparities that exist in school discipline:

  • Introduction of new Student Codes of Conduct differentiated by age group;
  • Board review of discipline data at designated Board Meetings;
  • Six Learning Environment Specialist provide training based on school level needs regarding student behavior; and
  • Implementation of electronic referral system to support review of discipline data and referrals by school staff, Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services, and the Superintendent’s Cabinet.

 

Updates to Equity Website to Support Development of Racial and Equity Consciousness

The Office of Equity has made updates to its PPS web site to support stakeholders in ways to enact racial equity, especially during this time.  The web site provides ‘Black Lives Matter’ and antiracism resources to support and sustain the development of a racial and equity consciousness for central administration, school-based educators and leaders, parents and family, and students. The newly content rich site offers links to articles, books, videos, webinars, guides, podcasts, and comprehensive web sites that may be accessed individually or within a learning community. 

 

The site additionally spotlights the work of the District’s new Student Equity Advocates.  The Advocates support designated groups of historically marginalized students across the District’s secondary schools by increasing students’ exposure to positive role models and extended learning.  Visit https://www.pghschools.org/equity to access resources and read student testimonies.  

 

District Offices to Close at 2PM in Recognition of Juneteenth Holiday

In recognition of the first anniversary of Pennsylvania declaring June 19, as Juneteenth National Freedom Day, District staff will be dismissed early at 2 PM.

 

On June 19, 2019, Governor Wolf signed legislation that designates June 19 as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day” in Pennsylvania. Juneteenth, a portmanteau of June and nineteenth, marks June 19, 1865, when union soldiers reached Galveston, Texas, the furthest point in the south, with news of the end of the Civil War. Slaves were previously unaware they had been freed more than two years earlier when President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, or that Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered in Virginia two months earlier.

 

“American citizens of all races have come together in love and solidarity to condemn systemic racism,” said Dr. Hamlet. “Juneteenth provides an opportunity for us all to celebrate and reflect on the independence, culture, and achievements of African Americans in this country.

 

The District will seek Board approval to offically make Juneteenth a holiday in PPS in the year to come.