Before COVID-19 shuttered school buildings across the country, the disproportionate discipline rates for students with disabilities were at a crisis level, with students with disabilities subjected to suspension, expulsion, restraint, seclusion and law enforcement referrals at much higher rates than their peers. As we face the new realities that have been introduced by the pandemic, including virtual learning and heightened safety requirements like masks and social distancing for in-person learning, that crisis has the potential to escalate. Instead of deepening the crisis, schools have an opportunity to rethink how they approach discipline, employing strategies that will enable students with disabilities to thrive in this challenging new reality. This session will discuss the proactive steps schools can take to not only prevent a worsening crisis but to resolve the one that existed before COVID-19. We will also take a close look at the national policy discussions around school climate and how those proposals impact this issue.
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