UNL conference: 'Strategies to Reduce Exclusionary School Discipline'

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln will be holding a one-day workshop on Sept. 18, 2015, on ways to minimize exclusionary disciplinary practices. It is aimed at teachers and practitioners and will be held on UNL's Innovation Campus. The conference is $25 (note: no fee for Lincoln Public Schools teachers).

Strategies to Reduce Exclusionary School Discipline will be held 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Register for the conference here: http://cehs15.unl.edu/ccp/cehs-conf/index.php.

Refreshments, and a box style lunch will be provided as a part of the conference registration.

Registration deadline is Wednesday, September 9, 2015! Registration will be limited to 250 individuals. Early registration is encouraged to insure acceptance. Scholarships which will cover the registration cost for Lincoln Public Schools personnel, and for UNL faculty & students are available. No refunds will be given after registration closes on September 9. (Interested OPS teachers should contact Wendy Smith at wsmith5@unl.edu about free registration and a paid substitute.)

Precipitating Events

The U.S. Office of Civil Rights and U.S. Department of Education have written two different “Letters to Colleagues” during the past year (k-12 education and preschool education), indicating concern with the apparent overuse of suspension and expulsion as disciplinary consequences in schools. They also indicated serious concerns about the consistent pattern of over representation of students who are minorities, and students receiving these consequences.

As a result of a multidisciplinary meeting held during the first week of April sponsored by the Dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences, a group of UNL faculty across several departments along with public school and preschool personnel, and parents met to brainstorm potential strategies to address this problem in Nebraska. One of the resulting recommendations from this meeting was to hold a larger conference on this topic with key scholars working on solutions. This would also permit a broader group of educators across Nebraska and researchers across the University to access the ideas and research of these scholars.

This conference would be open to Nebraska preschool and k-12 school personnel, especially those dealing with school discipline and behavior. In particular, the conference should be of special interest to all k-12 principals and associate principals, and Directors of Pupil Services and Special Education. UNL faculty and students across several colleges and departments who may be interested in this topic are also invited to participate. The meeting is intended to foster discussion among school personnel, and to foster collaborative research about these issues with a multidisciplinary group of educators and UNL faculty & students.

Focus and Purpose of the Conference:

The purpose of this one day conference is to provide ideas and strategies which schools could employ to greatly diminish the need for exclusionary disciplinary consequences in schools by increasing positive, appropriate behavior of students in school settings across disability and minority groups.

Anticipated Outcomes
• To identify strategies to reduce the use of exclusionary discipline – suspension & expulsion- in schools and implement alternatives.
o Implementing school-wide behavior screening strategy
o Implementing multi-tiered systems of behavioral and academic support
o Implementing alternative disciplinary consequences which diminish the need for suspension and expulsion.
• To identify how these strategies may address the over representation of certain minorities and students with disabilities in exclusionary discipline.
• Development of a research-to-practice network to assist schools to implement these practices.

Conference Sponsors
• UNL College of Education and Human Sciences
• UNL Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders
• UNL Research Council
• Lincoln Public Schools
• UNL Student Engagement Project, funded by the Nebraska Department of Education

Creating a Network in Nebraska addressing Exclusionary Discipline

This meeting will provide an opportunity for school district leaders, researchers and interested others to form a network for discussion and sharing for the remaining academic year and beyond. This could entail an email list serve and occasional regional or state-wide meetings during the 2015-2016 school year. An opportunity will be provided to have any interested participant sign up to participate. Options available for access to technical assistance through the national PBIS technical assistance center project will be addressed as well as support through other federal and state projects such as the NDE Student Engagement Project.

Topic 1 - How school wide behavior screening data can be used to inform instruction and connect students to research-based Tier 2 and Tier 3 supports.

Kathleen Lynne Lane is a Professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas. Dr. Lane’s research interests focus on school-based interventions (academic and behavioral) with students at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD), with an emphasis on systematic screenings to detect students with behavioral challenges at the earliest possible juncture. She has designed, implemented, and evaluated comprehensive, integrated, three-tiered (CI3T) models of prevention in elementary, middle, and high school settings to (a) prevent the development of EBD and (b) responding to existing instances. She advocates for Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) and for school-wide behavior screening.

Topic 2 - How school wide positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS) can support a reduction in the use of exclusionary discipline.

Timothy J. Lewis is a Professor of Special Education at the University of Missouri. He has been a teacher and researcher in the field of special education for over 30 years. Dr. Lewis is also the Co-Director for the Center for Adolescent Research in Schools (CARS), and the Co- Director and Midwest regional coordinator for Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) funded Center for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). This technical assistance center has worked with almost 8000 schools to implement PBIS. PBIS is an empirically validated, function-based approach to eliminate challenging behaviors and replace them with prosocial skills. Use of PBS decreases the need for more intrusive or aversive interventions (i.e., punishment or suspension) and can lead to both systemic as well as individualized change.

Topic 3 - Strategies to reduce the use of exclusionary discipline through reform of school codes of conduct.

Reece L. Peterson is a Professor of Special Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He was co-principal investigator of a federally funded “Safe and Responsive Schools” project developing materials for discipline reform, and school violence prevention and intervention. He has written on the use of physical restraint and seclusion procedures in schools, and testified before the US House of Representatives hearing in 2009. Currently he is principal investigator for a Nebraska Department of Education project developing materials for schools to reduce the use of exclusionary discipline, and to prevent school dropout.

Additional information or questions: Contact Heidi Menard at hmenard1@unl.edu or 402-472-3956; or, Reece Peterson at rpeterson1@unl.edu or 402-472-5480.