Positive School Wide
Welcome to the Positive School Wide Engagement Plan!
MPS central office staff used feedback from each school's Positive School Wide Engagement (PSWE) team to re-imagine and better communicate a district-wide framework for Positive School Wide Engagement. This site details everything you need to know about the District's mutual agreements with the Federal Office of Civil Rights, The Minnesota Department of Human Rights, as well as how to implement the new and improved plan.
Accountability Structures to Minimize Disparities
Disparities in school discipline continue to be a problem facing Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS). Despite a dramatic decrease in suspensions and overall drop in instructional time missed as a result of disciplinary action, the gap between students of color, specifically Black and American Indian students, and their white peers, as well as between students who receive special education services and students who do not, persists. The following accountability structures are in place to provide guidance to schools and the central office regarding collective responsibility to promote increased student engagement, improved school climate and ultimately eliminate discipline disparities.
BEHAVIOR STANDARDS POLICY
In 2013, MPS engaged over 1,000 students, families and staff members to help us develop the MPS Behavior Standards Policy. The policy, first implemented during the 2014-2015 school year, aims to increases the amount of quality time students spend learning by reducing suspensions and out-of-class time, especially for our African American males and students receiving special education services. Further, the policy is designed to positively impact all students, those who are facing challenges and those who are not. Under the behavior policy, each school, and the district more broadly, must set clear and high expectations, define consistent responses and find alternatives to suspensions, especially in early grades. The policy ensures fair rules for everyone and creates consistency across the MPS system for how students are disciplined at school. In order to ensure this consistency, the policy clearly outlines expectations for students and adults alike.
OFFICE OF CIVIL RIGHTS
In 2014, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) conducted an investigation examining whether Black students were discriminated against in the district’s administration of school discipline. Three major findings appeared from the investigation. The OCR found that Black and American Indian students were over-represented in all categories of disciplinary actions. Additionally, Black and American Indian students received harsher punishments than their white peers for the same behaviors. Lastly, Black and American Indian students were disciplined for subjective behavior incidents, like “disruptive behavior,” at disproportionately higher rates than white students. In response to these findings, OCR and MPS signed a mutual agreement requiring the district to continue monitoring racial disparities, take steps to eliminate discrimination and ensure discipline is appropriately and fairly applied.
MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Since then, the district has taken many steps to accomplish the goals in the agreement, including clarifying the behavior rules and expectations to decrease the amount of subjective referrals. As a result, the use of exclusionary discipline, especially for subjective rule violations have decreased. While these results are encouraging, students of color, specifically Black and American Indian students, as well as students who receive special education services, continue to receive a disproportionate number of behavior referrals and exclusionary discipline responses. As a result, MPS will enter into a new, more targeted agreement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) in the 2018-2019 school year. The new agreement dictates transparent reporting requirements and reinforces requirements originally identified in the OCR agreement, while expanding the focus to ensure that the district is committed to implementing specific, promising and best-practice engagement strategies to reduce the disparities Black, American Indian and students receiving special education services face. This agreement can be found here.
During 2017-2018 school year, a District wide Climate and Safety Advisory Committee formed. Participants in this committee expressed the need to improve authentic site based feedback loops and ensure that stakeholder input is being honored and used to drive improvement planning and support. In response, the Superintendent directed staff to ensure that each middle and high school make space for conversations to occur among a larger group of stakeholders including students, families, community members and School Resource Officers. This work is inherently connected to the work Equity and Engagement teams are already doing.
Positive School Wide Engagement: Aligning Policy & Practice
The revised Positive School Wide Engagement (PSWE) plan will continue to support schools as they implement promising and best-practice strategies for student engagement. This work will be led by the Equity and Engagement Teams (EET) at the site level. Simultaneously, the plan contains carefully designed activities to help each school meet the requirements of the mutual agreements between MPS and the Federal Office of Civil Rights and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, as well as fully implement the District’s Behavior Standards Policy. Learn more about the revised District PSWE plan here.
The activities found on this site are designed to supplement sites as work through the implementation toolkits to support Equity, Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS). Each school’s Engagement Lead, with the support of the Equity & Engagement team, should be able to complete these essential activities while prioritizing school improvement around SEL, Equity or other climate and engagement strategies.
All activities have supporting resources (e.g. facilitation plans, PowerPoint presentations, and other communication templates). While the activities are designed to meet one or more legal and/or policy requirements, we know sites may need to adapt activities to appropriately meet the needs of their school community. We encourage this, and provide ideas on how to modify the activities for the school context.
We know that a comprehensive approach to positive school wide engagement is necessary to actualize the goal of eliminating discipline disparities. Your school is not expected to accomplish everything all at once. Subsequently, the PSWE plan will evolve over time as schools indicate appropriate readiness. Use the buttons below to explore required activities for each quarter in the 2019-2020 school year.
If at any point, you need support or guidance on how to implement or modify these activities or with implementing other engagement strategies - no matter where you are in the process - please reach out to the District's Positive School Wide Engagement team.