LCAP Countdown Week III: Fresno Unified Fixing School Discipline

Fresno BHC Schools Team RallyThe Fresno Building Healthy Communities (BHC) Health Happens in Schools Team – a collaborative of youth and parent organizations -has been organizing to ensure that restorative practices and alternatives to suspension are prioritized so that schools have the tools to work with students who are struggling, provide them with support, and help reintegrate them into community.

So far, the Fresno Unified School District seems to be listening!

The draft LCAP released on May 15 includes investments in school climate transformation, including:

1.      $1.5 million for restorative practices in schools in the District;

2.      $3.3 million dedicated to prevention and intervention, including for increases in restorative practices

3.      $1.5 million for implementation of School Wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (through Safe and Civil Schools) to “provide an environment conducive to restorative practices”

4.      Additional funds for counseling and campus culture and support personnel and intensive case management for foster youth

While Fresno Unified is on the right path towards improving school climate and ending pushout, Fresno BHC Schools Team parents and students have identified a number of additional items that are critical to school culture transformation.

The BHC Team is calling for the LCAP to include specific data metrics and goals for increased instructional time and a reduction in missed learning due to classroom referrals, on campus suspensions, involuntary transfers, and expulsions.  It is also calling for transparency in the budget and details regarding how the district will be accountable to students and families during the final stages of the historic LCAP process and during implementation.

“I would like to see a place where youth voice is not only heard but actually makes a difference, such as a youth council. A structured youth council will help us every year in the future to have youth voice heard and help us not have to scramble to get youth input,” stated16-year old Fresno BHC Youth Leader Ivette Marquez, a student at Edison High School.

In addition, the BHC Schools Team is pushing for additional funding for Home-School Liaisons to support parents in providing culturally sensitive and appropriate resource services that build strong family-school relations, resources for cultural and language access at all school-sites so parents can effectively support school-climate improvements, and academic-focused after-school programs to keep students on track to graduate.

Fresno BHC leaders are saying that, “The journey is far from over and will not end until attendance and graduation rates improve, school pushout rates decline, and there is authentic parent engagement.”

Restorative Practices, the critical alternative to suspension in Fresno, is used to build a sense of school community and resolve conflict by repairing harm and restoring positive relationships through the use of regular “restorative circles” where students and educators work together to set academic goals, develop core values for the classroom community and resolve conflicts.

Read more about what is happening in Fresno Unified trustees look at options to help at-risk students.

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