Parents’ Night Out: Advocating for Kids in the School Discipline Process

As part of our Parents' Night Out series, we're proud to present this guide to the New Orleans & Louisiana school discipline system for parents, educators and advocates.

This is just the beginning of a conversation around access and equity. As with any brief, there are issues that we haven't touched on here that we will in the future, including parent perspectives and policy supports to ensure equitable education experiences for every child.

Psst — have you RSVP'd to tonight's School Discipline Happy Hour at Second Vine Wine?

Video: OPEN Conversations on School Discipline with LOTS Academy and India King

Equity Facts

Suspension, expulsions, and school climate in New Orleans

Black students in Louisiana are nearly 8 times more likely to be suspended and 3 times more likely to be expelled than their Caucasian peers.
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Children suspended in their early school years are 10 times more likely to drop out of high school.
[Source]

Louisiana loses an estimated $3.25 billion annually in wages as a result of policies that push students out of school before graduation.
[Source]

“Willful disobedience” is the #1 cause of Louisiana discipline incidents, accounting for 14% of out-of-school suspensions and 10% of expulsions. But it’s not defined by law, which means schools can suspend students for anything from a fistfight to a uniform violation.
[Source]

New Orleans kids screen positive for post-traumatic stress disorder at more than five times the national rate. PTSD is strongly linked with academic problems, concentration issues, extreme emotional outbursts, and disassociation.
[Source]

Policies

Louisiana Act 1225

Established the Juvenile Justice Implementation Commission and provides for “alternative facilities” to support students instead of imprisoning them.

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OPSB Discipline Policy & Procedures for Students with Disabilities

Guidance for parents of IEP and 504 Plan students on what schools can and cannot do in the discipline process.
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Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Regulations on Discipline

IDEA is a federal law ensuring that all kids with exceptionalities are provided with educational accommodations. This link explains what discipline looks like for students who have been formally assessed and those who have a suspected exceptionality.
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Local Resources

Counseling and Advocacy for Students
(504) 525-2366 | childrens-bureau.com

Building Relationships Between Students & Schools
(504) 249-5274 | thecra.net

Holistic Legal Representation for Youth
(504) 658-6860 | laccr.org

What You Can Do

Be ready

Get a written copy of the school’s discipline policies at the beginning of the year. If your child is disciplined, make sure the school is acting in line with their own rules.

Request formal documentation

of any discipline incident, and a one-on-one meeting with the school to resolve the issue. If a school tries to suggest informally keeping your student home, refuse. They deserve 

Communicate

with your child’s teacher and identify allies who can support your child in difficult moments.

Get evaluated

and watch the trends. Some discipline issues aren’t even behavioral: if the student is confused and frustrated by math, they may act out in class, and need tutoring instead of suspension.

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