The House of Representatives of the state of Louisiana, USA, is the latest state governing body to consider adopting a law to change disciplinary codes in its schools. Stop Bullying Louisiana and Louisiana Progress issued a policy brief on Louisiana House Bill 646: The Safe and Successful Students Act titled "The Importance of Positive School Climate." The one-page brief says:
"In addition to reducing the reliance of schools on zero-tolerance policies and exclusionary forms of discipline such as suspension and expulsion in response to offenses that do not present a major threat to the safety of a school, HB 646 promotes wherever possible the use of restorative practices and other measures designed to promote positive school climates. Recent research is very clear that this approach creates safer schools in which students can succeed in a variety of measurable ways."
Citing among other research Sharon Lewis's 2009 report from the IIRP Graduate School, "Improving School Climate: Findings from Schools Implementing Restorative Practices," the briefing makes three main arguments:
- Restorative practices and positive school climates create safer schools and reduce the frequency of serious disciplinary incidents.
- Positive school climates reduce student risk behaviors.
- Schools with positive climates see higher standardized test scores and academic achievement.
The entire brief may be found here.
Equality Louisiana, which supports the bill and provided the link to the policy brief in a blog post by communications coordinator Micah Caswell, writes on its twitter feed that the bill has been passed today by the House Education Committee. If the bill passes the house and senate and is signed into law, Louisiana would join states like Colorado and Michigan that have made moves at the state level to end zero tolerance practices in schools.
The entire bill, amendments, notes and history can be found here.