To: Arlington School Board
APS: Best Practices in School Climate and Students' Rights
We support the adoption of best practices to ensure that students in Arlington Public Schools can enjoy a positive school climate and are treated with dignity and respect.
We ask the Arlington Public Schools to immediately undertake a policy review that gives voice to the community and to APS students and ensures that:
*APS Policies and Practices are consistent with the Virginia School-Law Enforcement Partnership Guide, which was developed with the input of 43 subject matters experts in May of 2017.
*The APS Handbook is revised to improve clarity and transparency (specifically relating to the range of disciplinary measures appropriate for violations of school rules) and increase consistency in the sanctions imposed.
*Administrative disciplinary practices are reviewed and revised to reduce the risk of disproportionately negatively affecting students of color and students with disabilities.
*Administrative disciplinary practices are reviewed and revised to place an emphasis on alternatives to in-school and out-of-school suspension.
*Academic and social-emotional needs that drive student behaviors are being addressed.
*Disciplinary sanctions are differentiated, as appropriate (for example developmental age should be considered).
*Performance evaluations of APS administrators includes measures of success in creating a positive school climate for staff and students alike.
Why is this important?
Preserving the constitutional rights of children in APS is important to us. Virginia currently leads the nation in referring children into the criminal justice system. It is also important to us that this trend, also known as the “school-to-prison pipeline,” be dramatically reduced. Some of the main contributors to the school-to-prison pipeline include zero-tolerance and overly punitive school disciplinary practices, which result in students’ reduced access to instruction. Policies and practices should aim higher. APS should set the bar higher than simply not violating students’ legal rights.
Changes made to the 2017-18 APS Handbook that expand search and seizure practices without reference to either reasonable suspicion or probable cause should stop, pending School Board review of the policy and practice.
Information regarding school to prison pipeline and school discipline:
Current APS Handbook:
Prior Year APS Handbook: