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MPSD Invited to White House Conference on "Rethinking School Discipline"

MPSD Administrators attend “Rethinking School Discipline” Conference at the White House. Pictured left to right: Howard Hagwood, MPSD PBIS Director; Dr. Alvin Taylor, MPSD Superintendent; and Dr. Amy Carter, MPSD Assistant Superintendent of Student Services.

 

The Meridian Public School District was invited to join a group of other teams of superintendents, principals, and teachers from 40 districts across the country at a gathering of educators hosted by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice recently. The event, “Rethinking School Discipline,” a day-long conference at the White House, was focused on helping school districts to create positive school climates and implement effective discipline practices.

“It was a privilege and honor to be invited to the White House for such an event, and I am very thankful that the Meridian Public School District was not only invited but acknowledged and recognized for the work that has been done,” said MPSD Superintendent Dr. Alvin Taylor. “The District was recognized by the Departments of Civil Rights and Justice for managing to decrease student discipline infractions while, simultaneously, increasing student academic achievement.”

From the 2011-12 school year to the 2014-15 school year, the Meridian Public School District decreased exclusionary discipline by 50 percent and increased academic achievement by over 20 percent.

The Meridian Public School District fully implemented the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support program (PBIS) during the 2013-14 school year and continues to focus on rewarding students for positive behavior while providing interventions and supports.

As part of the White House “Rethinking School Discipline” conference, Vanita Gupta, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Justice, referenced the success of the Meridian Public School District in a speech by saying, “Not only has exclusionary disciple been reduced, according to Dr. Taylor, but a survey of students and teachers very importantly shows that 85 percent felt safer in schools since the changes were made. I think that gets to the climate piece of all of this which I think is terribly important.” Gupta went on to add, “The goal is to really have these practices and interventions become models for districts around the country.”

“Earlier today, you heard about a landmark agreement, and I couldn’t be more proud, that the Civil Rights Division reached with the school district in Meridian, Mississippi, which is already reducing exclusionary discipline and fostering a more positive climate in the Meridian schools,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. Department of Justice.

“Creating and sustaining safe, supportive schools is absolutely essential to ensuring students can engage in the rich learning experiences they need for success in college, work and life –that’s why rethinking school discipline is critical to boosting student achievement and improving school outcomes. [The] conference shows that there are leaders across the country who are committed to doing this work. We are proud to stand as partners with these educators to say that we have to continue to do better for all of our students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The White House “Rethinking School Discipline” conference builds on the work of the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative (MBK) <https://www.whitehouse.gov/my-brothers-keeper>, the White House Council on Women and Girls (CWG)<https://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/cwg>, and the Supportive School Discipline Initiative— a collaboration between the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice launched in 2011 to support the use of school discipline practices that foster safe, supportive, and productive learning environments while keeping students in school.

“I am pleased to see that the Meridian Public School District is being recognized for these accomplishments on a national scale,” said Taylor. “Thanks to the hard work of our teachers, administrators, parents, students, and community members, our District is once again being recognized in a positive way and on a national level.”

For more information about the White House Administration’s work on school climate and discipline go to www.ed.gov/school-discipline<http://www.ed.gov/school-discipline.

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