Dear MPS Community,
Milwaukee Public Schools is dedicated to making sure each child who steps through the doors of one of our 160 schools is treated fairly. Earlier this year, the Milwaukee Board of School Directors approved a resolution agreement with the United States Department of Education (DOE) that will help us fulfill that promise.
The district has voluntarily entered into this agreement after an initial report from the DOE found disparities dating back to the 2014-15 school year. In reaching this agreement, the district acknowledges there is room for us to improve our current disciplinary practices.
Our agreement has several major requirements:
- Reviewing and revising our student code of discipline to make sure there is clarity about what is considered inappropriate behavior and an appropriate range of consequences for that behavior
- Training staff to identify students at risk for behavioral difficulties and using early intervention methods before students are referred beyond the classroom for more intensive disciplinary action
- Providing support to ensure that discipline is imposed equitably and fairly across the district regardless of race, gender, religion or national origin
- Working with students, staff, families and the community to develop discipline policies and procedures that are fully understood and transparent
That’s where you come in. Please attend one of our Community Conversations on Improving School Culture. A full list of the upcoming sessions will be posted once they are available. Your comments are vital to our work. We see these meetings not as a way to air grievances, but to develop a plan that is fair to all.
If you are not able to join us at one of these sessions, your input is still valuable! Please take a moment to complete a feedback form.
In 2014-15, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) conducted an investigation regarding a complaint about the disproportionality of African American students receiving referrals, suspensions and other disciplinary actions. The Administration has been working with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR). The District assures OCR that it will take the following actions to comply with the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d (Title VI), and its implementing regulation, 34 C.F.R. Part 100, which prohibit discrimination based on race, color, or national origin by a recipient of Federal financial assistance. The resolution details the following:
1) Designation of Responsible Employee
The Discipline Manager shall be responsible for ensuring that the implementation of the District’s policies concerning discipline is fair and equitable.
2) Early Identification of Students At-Risk for Behavioral Difficulties and Early Intervention
The District will ensure that all school staff employ a range of corrective measures before referring a student to disciplinary authorities unless it can be documented that the safety of students and/or staff is threatened or the behavior in question is such that the disruption to the educational environment can only be addressed by such a referral.
3) Outreach to Students, District Staff and Community Members
The District will establish student committees at the District’s middle schools and high schools to discuss matters concerning the equitable treatment of students in the implementation of the District’s discipline policies, practices and procedures.
4) Working Groups
The District will establish a working group at each District school consisting of school personnel, including teachers, administrators and other school staff who are involved in making discipline referrals and imposing disciplinary sanctions, parents of school students and community leaders.
School working groups and student committees will submit recommendations and suggestions concerning district policy and procedures to improve student discipline.
5) Parent Programs
The District, in collaboration with the working groups, will develop and provide informational programs for parents or guardians of students at all District schools (parent programs) that will explain the disciplinary policies of the District in an easily understood manner.
6) Policies, Practices and Procedures
The District will revise its policies and procedures for discipline based on feedback and input from schools, families, and community members, ensuring to remove vague, subjective, and redundant language.
7) Staff Training
The District will provide effective training programs to all District teachers, administrators, school aides and any other District personnel charged with supervising students. Training will cover a variety of topics on topics or equity, implicit bias, behavior management strategies, relationship building, restorative practices, and other training as requested by schools.
8) Data Collection and Self-Monitoring
The District will collect and analyze data regarding referrals for student discipline, specifically looking at any disproportionality within the data.
9) Data Evaluation
If the data suggests disproportion, the District will explore possible causes for the disproportion and consider steps that can be taken to eliminate the disproportion to the maximum extent possible.
10) Response to Data Evaluation
District will hold meetings to explore possible causes for disproportion in discipline data and consider next steps to consider to eliminate the disproportion and to remind principals of resources available.