Online Program

Transforming statewide policy into community-wide practice: School disciplinary policy and health disparities

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 :

Mary Kreger, Dr PH, Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Katherine Sargent Cairoli, MA, Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, CA
James Thrasher, EdD, Human Rights and Community Outreach, California Teachers Association, Burlingame, CA
Patricia Rucker, California Teachers Association, Sacramento, CA
Castle Redmond, JD, The California Endowment, Sacramento, CA
Claire Brindis, DrPH, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health & Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Background and purpose:  Recognizing the importance of school attendance and its ramifications for community well-being, including violence prevention, economic development, and health status, in 2014, the California legislature passed a bill limiting the 40% of school suspensions for “willful defiance.” The law allows communities an active planning role in defining alternatives to suspension, which creates opportunities to fund and implement evidence-based interventions. This presentation details the process and lessons learned from educating policymakers and constituents in local school districts, including accessing relevant data, identifying and tailoring interventions, and implementing and monitoring successful strategies for systems change.

Significance and methodology:  A number of California school districts are implementing evidence-based approaches to reducing suspensions, but many others have not yet implemented programs and policies. Successful communities are assessing their goals, using data to determine disproportionality, tailoring interventions, and evaluating outcomes. Using pre-post data and assessments, The California Endowment (funder), The California Teachers Association, and UCSF are assisting community stakeholders to create school disciplinary policies that benefit the wider community, especially marginalized populations (low-income students and students of color).

Results and conclusion:Implementing evidence-based approaches to reduce suspensions, including restorative justice, positive behavior approaches, trauma-informed care, and other options, are resulting in increases in academic performance scores for all students, including marginalized students. Increases range from 60-85% over a four-year period. These data assist communities to evaluate outcomes of interventions, addressing the disproportionality of suspension rates. Lessons from both the interventions and community involvement in the local policy and budgetary process are presented.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Other professions or practice related to public health
Program planning
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Assess alternative school disciplinary approaches that help improve the safety and economic development within a community. Identify data sources that provide a rationale for these strategies. Compare strategies for educating policymakers to assure access to planning and budgetary endeavors. Discuss how district-level policies and interventions can keep more students in school and out of juvenile detention thereby improving the community’s overall health.

Keyword(s): Community Development, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the project director on foundation and state and federally-funded research for the past 20 plus years. Topics include youth and community resilience, systems change, environmental health, health care delivery systems and policy, and community advocacy.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.