NEW CASTLE — Today, the ACLU of Delaware’s Equity in Education Campaign released a report highlighting The Charter School of New Castle’s (CSNC) approaches to address discipline disparities among Black and brown students—specifically those with disabilities—who are suspended and expelled at significantly higher rates than their white counterparts.
The report, Charter School of New Castle (CSNC): Education Equity Initiative 2021-2023 Model for Creating an Inclusive School Climate, unveils the CSNC inclusive school model focused on three tracks: 1) practices to achieve an inclusive school environment, 2) increasing student engagement, and 3) creating channels for parent collaboration and engagement. Since implementation of the inclusive school model, CSNC has seen a significant reduction in suspension rates, and positive outcomes in students’ sense of belonging, personal academic abilities, and perceptions of teachers and school staff as allies and resources.
Most notably within the CSNC model is an emphasis on the use of restorative discipline practices. “By replacing out-of-school suspensions with more effective non-punitive interventions, schools begin to consciously create more inclusive cultures,” said Melva L. Ware, PhD., ACLU-DE Consultant for Curriculum Development and Evaluation and primary author of the report, “Non-punitive, restorative discipline practices support the development of responsive relationships for young people with adults and foster students’ development of core life skills, including self-regulation. It’s time for Delaware educators to follow CSNC’s model by learning and adopting systematic approaches that encourage problem-solving and create opportunities for students to take responsibility for their behavior and learn new, better behavioral patterns.”
When compared to district schools and other charter schools with similar student populations, CSNC’s in-school suspension rate is dramatically lower at <2% compared to traditional district/charter k-7/k-8 schools with in-school suspension rates above 10%. Out-of-school suspension rates of CSNC’s are also notably lower at 8.5%, while traditional district/charter k-7/k-8 schools see suspension rates ranging from 12.5% - 19%.
This success is made more noteworthy by the fact that approximately 86% of CSNC’s student population identifies as African American. On average, Black students are suspended at two times the rate of their white peers. “Student discipline is a racial justice issue,” said Shannon Griffin, Senior Policy Advocate at ACLU-DE, “Implicit biases against Black and brown children cause them to experience harsher discipline. Furthermore, many kids who experience high discipline rates have disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse, or neglect, and would benefit from additional educational and counseling services. Instead, they are isolated, punished, and pushed out. These students aren't just slipping through the cracks—they're being pushed into the cracks.”
Those interested in learning more about the inclusive school model should join ACLU-DE and CSNC on Thursday, November 2 at 6 p.m. for a virtual panel discussion. Visit bit.ly/csnc-panel to register.
ACLU-DE’s interventions at CSNC have provided strategic support in developing community resources, parent support, and political engagement that are factors in securing resources that can support curriculum and service expansion.
Introduction of the Scholars Engaged for Action (SEFA) program provided staff opportunities to “open” the curriculum to student-led learning frameworks that, in fact, support accelerated learning experiences. ACLU-DE facilitated training for educators on Restorative Practices served as a mastery immersion for school leaders and instructional staff whose commitment to creating inclusive school culture is exemplary.