The Atlanta Public Schools received a $7.5 million grant from the National Institute of Justice to research school safety. But that doesn’t necessarily mean more surveillance cameras and resource officers.
APS will partner with researchers from Georgia State University and educational nonprofit WestEd to come up with a plan to improve students’ safety. Atlanta Superintendent Meria Carstarphen says that could mean looking at discipline differently:
“It’ll have a multi-pronged approach that allows us to look at social and emotional learning, these positive behavior systems that have proven to help students take more ownership and responsibility for how they act and behave in school.”
Carstarphen says the program will also explore “restorative”— as opposed to “punitive”— forms of discipline.
The research will also evaluate emergency preparedness and school policing. The parties hope the results will serve as a model that can help other school districts.
“I think that it’s important that, once and for all, we’re in a learning environment together, testing some of these theories and chucking out the ones that don’t work well and scaling up the ones that will be best for our students,” Carstarphen says.
State data show African-American and Latino students are suspended at a disproportionate rate, compared to other students. Carstarphen says the research will address the disparity by seeking out effective, school-based discipline strategies.
The initiative is scheduled to begin in January.
A note of disclosure: WABE’s broadcast license is held by the Atlanta Board of Education.